Since investing in a snazzy little cooking thermometer and being smack bang in the middle of summer I’ve been busy playing with lot of jam and preserve recipes which I never had the confidence to make before. I’m just itching to start making sweets now, maybe some caramels or fudge and I’m going to have a go at making Italian meringue method macarons too. If any of these endeavours come out well you might be hearing about them in the coming months but for now I’m busy jamming.
Last week my next door neighbour’s landlord hacked back their rather overgrown garden and cut down the lovely crab apple tree that hangs over the back wall. I stuck a note through the door begging for a few twigs and trimmings for my rabbits to nibble on and came home to find two huge sacks of branches dripping with tiny golden crab apples, result! While the bunnies got stuck into the crispy leaves, I stripped off as much fruit as I could manage and spent the evening sat in front of the TV picking through and de-stalking my haul.
The next day I boiled up the crab apples and hung them over a bowl in a make-shift jelly bag made from some cheesecloth and a tea towel to collect the juices. The day after that I got on with the jam making; I boiled up the juices with sugar and spices, played with my little thermometer and bottled this fragrant, tart, golden jelly that’s equally good on toast as it is with cheese.
And the best bit was that the bunnies got to enjoy the leftovers!
Crab apple jelly
Makes 4-5 pots
- 1.5kg crab apples
- 1 sachet of mulled wine spices (or a mix of cinnamon, cloves, orange zest, nutmeg and allspice)
- 1 kg sugar
Pick over the crab apples rejecting any that are bruised. Remove the stalks and blossom ends.
Place the fruit in a very large pan, add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the crab apples are soft.
Pour the fruit and liquid into a jelly bag or sieve lined with cheese cloth and suspend over a large bowl or jug. Put the spices in the bowl and leave the fruit to drip for 24 hours but don’t squeeze which will make the jelly cloudy.
Remove the spices and measure the volume of liquid. Using a ratio of 10 parts liquid to 7 parts sugar measure the volume of sugar and mix with the juice in a large pan. Warm gently to dissolve the sugar then boil until the jelly reaches 104°C. Skim off any foam at regular intervals.
Pour the jelly into sterilised jars and seal whilst still warm. Store in a cool, dark place and put in the fridge once opened.