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Monday, August 29, 2022

Spiced Crab Apple Jelly Recipe


2 jars of spiced crab apple jelly with crab apples on a plate

Sorry I haven't updated in a while. It's harvest season. The berries, the mushrooms, all those other things wild and cultivated that my family picks and creates the jams, sauces, syrups and jellies we use through out the year and give to our friends. Also, I'm going to do something weird and give you the recipe before the back story.

This is actually a TECHNIQUE and a recipe both. The technique is for easily juicing the crab apples. 

Juicing the crab apples in an Instant Pot

This method will not be as clear as traditional juicing methods, more of a "cider" than a juice.

You will need: 

  • 10 lbs of crab apples- ornamental are fine, we used ornamental for this batch
  • water to cover
  • strainer
  • Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker
We have a Ninja pressure cooker that's large enough we did this in 2 batches, which wound up being 2 cups of water per batch to cover the apples. 

Prep apples by removing stems. For larger crab apples, you can cut them in half too. Seeds and skins will be discarded with the pulp, but can add natural pectin to the finished jelly. 

Bring up to pressure and cook for 8 minutes. Natural release. Using a bowl to catch the juice, strain out the solids. A mesh strainer will work, you can line it with cheese cloth if you want a clearer finished jelly. We just strained and smooshed it through. The pulp and the discarded stems all went into our compost heap. 

Juice can be frozen to keep to process into jelly later. Also if you really, really like sour, go ahead and try it. It is sour though. 

Jelly Recipe (makes 12 half pints with a little leftover)

You will need:
  • 9 cups of juice. Measure out your juice, add water to make 9 cups if necessary
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 11 cups of sugar
  • pinch each allspice, cinnamon and either mace or nutmeg (we used mace, I'm very fond of that vintage spice) 
  • 2 packages of pectin- we used powdered Sure-Jell
Mix crab apple juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add in spices. Stir, heat slowly to mix completely and dissolve sugar completely. Stir in 2 packages of pectin. Bring to a rolling boil (a boil that can't be stirred down) and boil for exactly 1 minute. 

Skim of foam and put into prepared jars with a half inch headroom. Water bath process for 10 minutes.  

Crab apples are pretty new in our harvesting. Last year at a virtual plant symposium, someone told me approximately where her Dad had planted crab apple trees decades ago. My daughter went out exploring and found them and also found out that other people weren't picking them. Over the course of the next few weeks, she and her brother picked about 30 lbs of them. They were dried, used in pie, used for jellies and apple butter. 

Those trees aren't ready yet. But a friend of our offered to let TG and William pick at her house and they got 16 lbs total! We gave some to a friend, and used the rest to make this jelly. 

It's delicious. This would be amazing with moose, caribou, or if you're down south, venison. It's also a natural for pork. The sweet, tart, spiced combination is a natural with sharp cheese too. 

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