This was the question I asked of my gardening knowledgeable younger sister after she remarked on the plethora of fruit hanging off the tree’s branches…Can you eat ‘em?
I’ve always just gushed over the beautiful blossoms the tree produces in late spring ~
Yup, I guess you can…much more palatable if cooked first was the answer. So, I set out on a mission to find the best way to utilize these cute little fruit. After some serious research, I found what seems like a tasty crab apple jelly recipe (and its pretty too). Now, I am not one for being too hasty, so I did consider other ideas..like spicy pickled crab-apples…simmered in a tangy, spicy sauce of allspice, vinegar,brown sugar,and cinnamon before canning..nah…this would probably not be a bigger seller in my house….Chardonnay Crab Apples sounded delightful…they would be a nice addition to a bridal shower or a special get together, but not what I am looking for…then there was the Crab Apple Hot Pepper Jelly ( wouldn’t that be good with a pork or chicken roast), alas, my hot peppers were not ripe. Jelly, yup, I’ll make jelly!
Apparently, I hadn’t really thought this whole thing through, after what I considered a significant amount of time picking(15minutes or so, uh-mm..we’ll talk about patience another time) I only had about a quart of apples..and not a neighborhood child insight (darn)… you see, crab apples are ripe when they turn red, but, once they are completely ripe, the worms start to get at them and going through a ton of worm-infested apples is proving to be annoying and time consuming, I will make jelly, so I persist. *Note to self; pick your apples when they are only about half ripe…when the teeny apples have a slight reddish tinge to them, but some yellow coloring.
I am really liking this tree; beautiful with blossoms in the spring, sparkling rose colored jelly in the summer, no crab apples covering my yard later in the summer! I am of course having a twinge of guilt for wasting all that fruit in years gone by….
So, if you have a crab apple tree; pick those apples before they fall and do something useful with them. Crab apple jelly or something!
Wish me luck!
Here is the recipe: Clear Crab Apple Jelly
To create a clear jelly, start by chopping the crab apples in quarters. Keep an eye out for worms and discard any infested fruit (yuck).
Start with 8 cups of apples and put them into a large stainless steel pot.
Add water to the pot until you can see it and stop before the apples start floating.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and leave for about 10 minutes until the apples get soft and change colour.
Resist the urge to stir, since the more the apples move, the cloudier your jelly will get.
Remove the pot from the heat and pour the apples and water through several layers of cheesecloth or a strong pair of pantyhose( I will be skipping the pantyhose idea).
Do not squeeze the apple mush; just let it drip into a pot until no more liquid escapes.
You should end up with approximately 4 cups of juice.
Put the pot with the apple juice back on the stove and bring it to a boil for a few minutes before adding 3 cups of white sugar.
Allow to boil until the mixture reaches 220 to 222 degrees F (108 to 110 C).
If you don’t have a thermometer, wait until the jelly sheets from a metal spoon.
Pour into sterile jars,(see previous post for an easy sterilization technique) leaving a quarter inch of space at the top.
Place the lids on the jars and the heat of the mixture should seal them. If not, seal them in a hot water bath
PS…you could add your favorite spice, like cinnamon or nutmeg…
I’ll be sure to post pictures of the finished product.