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.
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.