My parents have shifted into a unit. After a life (time) of living in large houses with lots of space and huge gardens they now blessedly have a small two bedroom unit in a retirement village. It is lovely, but nevertheless it was an emotional time, selling up and choosing which things to keep, which to divest themselves of. Some beautiful things went.
As I helped them settle, we discovered a crabapple tree, with its final lot of green fruits clinging doggedly to the tree, and many more below nestled in the autumn leaves. I saw immediately crabapple jelly.
But how to get red crabapple jelly from green crabapples? Ah ha, I had a pomegranate sitting on my kitchen bench! Just the thing. And I wanted to supplement the flavour of the jelly.
I could have added a couple of cloves, or half a vanilla bean, or half a stick of cinnamon. Any would have produced a wonderful, enigmatic flavoured jelly that would be delicious. But instead I added some dried rose buds to scent the apples and pomegranate with a subtle waft of rose blossoms. Just the thing.
I like my jams not overly sweet, so I am heavy handed with the lemon and lighter with the sugar. The recipe here uses “normal” quantities, so adjust for your tastes. Just keep in mind that if you are reducing the sugar you are also reducing the keeping quality of the jam. Because I prefer to make small batches of jam, this isn’t a problem for me. Also, I store my jams in the fridge, which avoids all the difficulties of making large quantities of jam that you want to keep for ages in cupboards. Jams will last in the fridge a long time.
There really weren’t very many crabapples – I made two jars of jelly. Just enough for my parents and myself! Note that I am not a master jam maker – I make great jam that is sometimes set, sometimes nearly set and sometimes still quite runny. I prefer it that way. I love having jam that I can also 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
Source : inspired by some green crabapples at my parent’s new unit
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.