Preserving Summer: Crab Apple Jelly

By: Jennifer M August 25, 2013 Preserves 14 Comments
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I‘ve only made crab apple jelly once before, many years ago. I wasn’t planning on making it this year either, until my Dad offered up a basket of apples left-over from his batch of jelly. He even threw in the “instructions” that my Mom had written out for him to follow.

Despite the commercial basket, these crab apples did not come from any market. Oh they were grown in Ontario alright … but on the tree in front of the local funeral home. My Dad picked them himself, perhaps under cover of darkness. (I didn’t ask ;)

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that the provided instructions were a bit lacking. Despite some clear warnings (that would be the part in all caps and underlined), there were key parts missing like how many apples to start with, how long to cook the apples and how much sugar to add etc.

crabapple jelly
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I hit up google to fill in the blanks and by the end of the afternoon, had 3 beautiful jars of crabapple jelly.

Of course, then I had to bake up a batch of my English Muffin bread, since I knew it was the perfect place to spread a bit of this delicious jelly. And it was.

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About The Author

Hi! I'm Jennifer, cooking my way through the seasons in beautiful Muskoka, Ontario Canada. Did you know you could sign up to get new posts delivered right to your email inbox? Subscribe to Seasons and Suppers by Email


  1. Liz August 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I’ve never tried crab apple jelly but I’ve heard from my dad that it’s pretty good. I’ll have to keep my eye out for some or ask around where I might find some! Would love to try it some day.

    • Jennifer M August 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      They’re worth seeking out, Liz. Jelly is a bit more work than jam, but it’s so delicious (really fresh apple taste!).

  2. Renee August 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Looks lovely! I have a crabapple tree in the backyard, unfortunately not getting enough love. If I get my act in gear maybe there will be apple butter. Oh for more hours in the day!

    • Jennifer M August 25, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      I hear you, Renee. We have a very old crab in our yard, but the apples aren’t the deep red ones like these, so don’t make the pretty red jelly. We just let them fall and the deer (and sometimes the bears) get to enjoy them instead.

  3. Laura (Tutti Dolci) August 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    What pretty apples, your jelly sounds wonderful!

    • Jennifer M August 26, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      It’s a delicious jelly, Laura. And yes, crabs are such a rich red colour, aren’t they?

  4. Sophie August 27, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    You have bears in your yard?!?!

    I remember making your wonderful English muffin bread — I think it’s about time for another loaf :) Maybe I can convince someone to make this jelly for me. Sounds so good!

    • Jennifer M August 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      The bears don’t stop by too often. We’ve only seen 3 or 4 in the 10 years we’ve lived here. They’ll come around if the deer don’t show up to eat the apples, so we’re always happy to see the deer.

      Now about that bread, I hadn’t made it in a while and my husband, who often has baked goodies around, made a point of saying I should just bake that bread all the time. It was a treat and perfect for fresh jam or jelly.

  5. Kim September 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Hi there,
    I’m trying the recipe. Unfortunately, my sugar burnt in the oven as I left it in for exactly 15 minutes. So I didn’t get all the sugar in. I’ve just put the jelly in the cans. I’m wondering if it will turn to jelly now that there’s not enough sugar called for. It’s still cooling but still watery. If it doesn’t, is there anything I can do to save it?

    First time canner,

    • Jennifer M September 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm

      How much sugar did you get in? Let it sit for now (don’t move the jars around) and check it tomorrow. If it doesn’t set, you’ve got nothing to lose by re-cooking it with more sugar.

  6. Cheryl September 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I’ve been making crab apple everything for a few years, now. My jelly has never turned out such a nice color as in your picture, but, I will try your recipe, today, and cross my fingers. I do not seal with wax, however, I process in water, which I prefer, these days. I am also intrigued by your sugar in the oven method, and am looking forward to that!! Cheers to the harvest time of year!! Happy canning!!

    • Jennifer M September 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Cheryl, I understand that the colour of the apples dictates the colour of the jelly (the darker the apples, the darker the jelly). This is my Mom’s recipe. She always heats her sugar. I have read that it dissolves more quickly when heated, so it is dissolved before the jelly hits a full boil (which is apparently desirable). You just have to watch it carefully while it’s in the oven. Happy canning to you, as well!

  7. Rosemary Holt September 25, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I got all the right amount of sugar in, and cooked it and cooked it. I kept doing the test and after about an hour,(the lovely pink jelly was actually turning a little brown) it seemed to be at the wrinkle point. However the next day after I had put it into the jars it was not so much jelly as syrup. What did I do wrong?

    • Jennifer M September 25, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      Sorry to hear that, Rosemary. Apples have so much natural pectin that the only way the jelly won’t jell is if it doesn’t reach the required temperature (220° F.) Were your apples fresh? Were you boiling over high heat (was it really boiling well?)

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