I have access to a lovely tree of green crabapples and in late Autumn, with its final lot of green fruits clinging doggedly to the tree, many more lie below nestled in the autumn leaves. It took me back to more rustic times, to days of jam making in my Grandmother’s kitchen, to stirring jam in large preserving pans with huge wooden sticks.
Green jam is not so appealing though, and so pomegranate was added for colour and flavour. For addition appeal, consider adding some spice.
A couple of cloves, half a vanilla bean, or half a stick of cinnamon would add depth and dimension. Any of these would produce a wonderful, enigmatic flavoured jelly that would be delicious. Another option is to add some dried rose buds to scent the apples and pomegranate with a subtle waft of rose blossoms. These are available from Asian grocery shops.
Jam sweetness is personal preference. If your preference is not overly sweet, be heavy handed with the lemon and lighter with the sugar. The recipe here uses “normal” quantities, so adjust for your tastes. Keep in mind that the sugar is reduced, it also reduces the keeping quality of the jam. It is best to make smaller quantities of jam in this case, and store the jam in the fridge. Jams will last in the fridge a long time.
The degree of set of the jam is also personal preference and that can vary over time. I make great jam that is sometimes set, sometimes nearly set and sometimes still quite runny. I prefer it that way. It is great to have jam that can also be use as icecream topping, stirred into porridge, or as a sauce with fresh fruit. This jam, for example, with a little finely torn basil or fresh thyme leaves, stirred through fresh fruit salad, would be amazing!
Crab Apple and Pomegranate Jelly
Prep time: 15 mins + straining time
Cooking time: 90 mins
Serves:a lot of pieces of toast
18 – 20 small green crabapples
seeds from 0.5 pomegranate, with all bitter white casings removed
juice of 1 – 1.5 lemons
2 cloves, small stick cinnamon or small handful of dried rosebuds from Asian Shop (all optional)
Cover the crabapples and pomegranate seeds with water and lemon juice. Simmer until the crabapples are soft.
Strain the liquid without pressing down on the fruit – this keeps the final jelly clear. Allow to drip for several hours or overnight. Note that the liquid might look cloudy at this stage but is likely to clear once you add the sugar.
Pour the liquid through muslin to remove any remaining particles. Return the liquid to a saucepan and add a cup of sugar for each cup of liquid. Bring to the boil and simmer until setting point is reached. Test this by placing a drop of hot jam onto a cold saucer, allow to cool for a few moments. If a skin forms on the drop and prevents it from spreading when you tilt the saucer, the setting point had been reached.
Pour into sterilised jars and allow to cool.