Thursday, 10 November 2011
Hey everyone! Do you want to make crab apple jelly? Brilliant, me too. Let's get started.
You'll need a big bag of crab apples. Good luck with that; they are a bit of a pain to harvest. If you don't live near a tree, you can just use cooking apples from the greengrocer, but your jelly won't be the same beautiful claret-y pink colour. I know that sounds unfair, but it's best you're prepared for the shattering truth.
Wash your crabbies well. Outside is not as clean as we like to think.
I got my apples from my friend Rowanne's garden by the way. I've said I was going to make crab apple jelly with her under appreciated pommes for the past two years and this year I finally got around to it. Someone somewhere is applauding me, I just know it.
Chop the apples up roughly and put them in a large pan with a few cloves. Just barely cover them with water and turn on the heat.
Cook them gently until the fruit is pulpy. I warn you that this takes about 40 minutes. Having expected it to take 10, I was rather annoyed at this point. That's half an hour I'll never get back.
Now everything gets rather busy. You need to strain the pulpy fruit through a jelly bag for about 4 hours. Or through muslin. Or, if you're me, an old Ikea tea towel. Before using it, boil it in a pot of water for a minute or so. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, after all.
Look at the beautiful pink juice! Can you bear how pretty it is? (I can't.)
It all gets a bit exciting at this point, and I didn't have time to take pictures. But basically, you need to sterilise some jars. I used regular old jam ones, and did it the simple way: washed them in hot, soapy water, rinsed them and dried them off in a low oven.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, measure the juice you collected. For every 600ml, weigh out 450g granulated sugar. Heat the juice in a large pan, and when it boils, add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves. Then boil rapidly for about 8 minutes without stirring, until setting point is reached.
I hear you thinking, 'Wha..?'. Don't worry. This is easy. Pop a saucer in the fridge to chill before you begin, and when the 8 minutes are up, drip a little jelly onto it. If it gels (and it surely will, because crab apples are Pectin Kings. If the fruit garden had a fitness scene, the crap apples would be the guys working out on Muscle Beach), you've reached the setting point. Pour the hot jelly into a jug, then into your waiting (still warm) jars. Seal immediately with clean lids, which you can sterilise by boiling in water for 10 minutes.
Serve with cheese or roast meats.
That was free deliciousness I just showed you how to make there. Hope you liked it.