Preserving Summer: Crab Apple Jelly

crabapples

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
Pin It 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.

18 Comments

  • Reply August 25, 2013

    Liz

    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.

    • Reply August 25, 2013

      Jennifer M

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

  • Reply August 25, 2013

    Renee

    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!

    • Reply August 25, 2013

      Jennifer M

      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.

  • Reply August 26, 2013

    Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    What pretty apples, your jelly sounds wonderful!

    • Reply August 26, 2013

      Jennifer M

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

  • Reply August 27, 2013

    Sophie

    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!

    • Reply August 27, 2013

      Jennifer M

      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.

  • Reply September 18, 2013

    Kim

    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,
    Kim

    • Reply September 18, 2013

      Jennifer M

      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.

  • Reply September 21, 2013

    Cheryl

    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!!

    • Reply September 21, 2013

      Jennifer M

      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!

  • Reply September 25, 2013

    Rosemary Holt

    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?

    • Reply September 25, 2013

      Jennifer M

      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?)

  • Reply August 11, 2014

    Morgan

    If I can’t get my hands on the really red crabs, I cheat….I throw a handful of raspberries in with the apples while they’re stewing.

    • Reply August 11, 2014

      Jennifer

      That’s a great tip, Morgan. Thanks so much!

  • Reply September 1, 2014

    Joni

    This looks really delicious! I was able to get some crab apples from my uncle this year (not nearly so lovely as yours), and am looking forward to trying a new jelly. I also have some rosehips from my garden, so I’m going to try using those to boost the color and add a little something special =).

    Quick question, though, what do you mean by “wax and store”? I’ve only canned using a water bath canner, or occasionally have just turned the hot jars upside down with the two-piece lid on to seal. Your method is entirely new to me!

    • Reply September 1, 2014

      Jennifer

      Hi Joni, This is my mother’s recipe. She always melts paraffin wax in a small saucepan and pours it on top of the set jelly (after it’s sat and set for 24 hours). It should be about 1/2 inch thick (so allow room when filling jars) and ensure that the wax goes right to the edge and attaches to jar side, to ensure a good seal. Allow the wax to harden and then put the lid back on. It will then be shelf-stable. I suspect this is the preferred method for jellies, as a hot water bath would melt the set jelly and turning upside down would disturb the jelly consistency. I notice paraffin wax still readily available with the canning supplies around here.

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