Crabapple jelly

I was reading Cathy’s post about the beauty of design in nature and found it very inspiring.  I immediately felt the need to take a walk to experience some of this beauty just outside my door.  The perfect excuse for this was provided by the heavily laden crab apple in the hedge.  It has been a few years since I have seen such drooping branches.  The crab apple is a beautiful fruit, a miniature apple made all the more beautiful by its scars and blemishes. I filled a large bucket with carefully picked beauties and wandered back admiring the beginning of autumn and the hues of red, brown and gold peeking between the green.

A quick rinse of my 2½ kilos and they were destined for the preserving pan.

How a green bitter fruit can turn into an amber jelly is one of the magical acts of cookery. When you cook those apples into a green sludge you do wonder how the jelly will be transformed into something that you may want to eat alongside your roast lamb. But, honestly, you will enjoy every sweet appley mouthful and it feels even better that all you paid for was the heat and the sugar.

As many crabapples as you want to use ( I picked 2½ kilos)
Enough water to just cover them in the pan
Granulated sugar  450g for every 600ml of strained juice
If you wanted a little spice then feel free to add a cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, coriander seed or  a star anise into the pot


Rinse the crab apples and place whole into a preserving pan (if you have time and patience you could quarter then to reduce the cooking time a little).  Add enough water to barely cover them (I needed 3 litres for my 2½ kilo). Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit has turned to a sludgy mush. You can give them a stir to help them break up a bit.

Allow to cool a little and then pour into a jelly bag and leave to strain overnight into a large bowl. Do not squeeze the bag or the jelly will be cloudy.

Measure the strained juice and pour back into the preserving pan.  Bring this slowly back to the boil.  measure out 450g sugar for every 600ml of juice you have and then add this to the boiling juice.  Stir until the sugar dissolves and then leave the juice boiling rapidly until setting point is achieved.  You can tell setting point by placing a few saucers into the fridge when you start to boil the fruit and then testing the jelly by taking a spoonful of the mixture and pouring onto the cold saucer.  Leave to cool and then push your finger through.  If it wrinkles it has reached setting point.  Carefully pour the hot jelly into hot sterile jars and seal immediately.  Leave to cool before labelling. My 2½ kilos made 7 jars.

To sterilise your jars and lids, wash well in warm soapy water and rinse with clean water.  Place in a roasting pan, lids as well and place in a low oven for 10 minutes (the simmering oven of the Aga is ideal). They should still be hot when you pour the mixture into them.


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35 thoughts on “Crabapple jelly”

    1. It’s a shame you don’t see many crabapples. The tree is such a beauty in spring and autumn and useful too if you like your jellies. Apparently good for cider making too, which is very useful for cider fans.

  1. I can remember eating crab apple jelly as a child – every time I see crab apples the memories come flooding back. I am looking at the jars in the photograph with envy!

  2. Your jelly looks so beautiful and jewel like – I just love the quality of colour in jellies. And your peotic nature appreciation ramble to collect them was inspiring too. I love Autumn with it’s beautiful colours and light. Last year I added chillis to my jelly which worked really well. This year I have made none, so doubly appreciating yours.

  3. Try adding a few chillies to the mash as it cooks (scotch bonnet are the best, but add according to taste), it really makes a gorgeous accompanyment to chicked, port or cold meats – go on, be brave!

  4. Just made a batch but juice yield seems really low, just 600ml from 5 lb apples. From same trees two years ago got 6 jars, this time just three. 2 year ago I collected very ripe windfalls, this time I picked the apples, some were very small and dry. Any thoughts on this low yield (juice was very gloopey too and just took 8 min to get to setting point on boiling).? Thanks

    1. Hi jbnr, I don’t really know. Other than the weather has been very disappointing for fruit this year and your crabapples sound as if they just weren’t the same quality as last year. What does it taste like? Does it taste good? I must take a look at the crabapple tree close to me to see what the fruit is like on it this year.
      Best Kath

  5. Marian birkbeck

    Just made my first batch of crab apple just started to drip the juice, please could you tell me when does it turn pink ?

  6. I like to try a differant recipe for my jellies each year, and I must say yours has produced the best results. It’s still cooling in the jars as we speak – a lovely orange glow. I’m almost tempted to go and buy that joint of pork right now 🙂

  7. Hello. I’m a first timer and wondered if anyone could help. How long until the jelly is ready to eat once put in the jars?

  8. I made many jars last year and gave lots away to friends, family & neighbours. I still have a couple left and I’m in the process of making this year’s batch. Could you tell me the shelf life of the jelly.

  9. Hi, I have just finished making this and all went well, but can you tell me where I went wrong as my jelly has turned out a pale gold colour and not the lovely red as on your photo’s. Why is this. Many thanks

  10. This is sooo good with spices in! Jars make a lovely homemade Christmas pressie too, with a nice material lid cover, bow and handwritten label.
    Along with my sloe gin, the jelly is very popular!

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