Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Garden Crab Apple Jelly

In late summer sunshine, the two old crab apple trees have been laden with ripe, red-yellow fruit. Fruit began to fall this week, helped by a windy night. From my window, I have watched magpies and a pair of crows hopping in the branches, shaking the boughs with their strong beaks and then flying down to take fallen fruit from the grass. Wasps are feeding on the ripe juices of the small bruised apples and there is a scent of early fermentation in the air.

This September, as I am no longer teaching, I am enjoying the luxury of time. Time to gather the small harvest of our garden and to cook and preserve what I can. The old dogs and a gingery cat sunbathed in the grass as I picked ripe crab apples and rescued the best fruit beneath the trees.

Sorting and slicing the fruit took time, but I listened to a radio play as I worked.
As the crab apples came to the boil in a heavy pan, the kitchen filled with their sharp, acidic scent as they softened to a golden pulp.

Time for the crab apple pulp to be caught in a large muslin cloth , which hung over a bowl to gather the reddish-pink juice that poured and then dripped from the fruit.

Some hours later, the clear, drained juice was poured into a pan and sugar was stirred in with a wooden spoon. The clear mixture boiled until the jelly hung in a drop of pale gold from the stirring spoon. At setting point, a teaspoon of the juice formed a crinkled skin on a cold white plate.

Clean , recycled jam jars were scalded and then warmed in a low oven,while their lids were boiled for ten minutes.

Here are some of the finished jars , waiting to be labelled, alongside hedgerow jam and bottled pears from another garden tree.

Below is the simple recipe I used, which came from a basic cookery book given to my mother, by her grandmother, way back in the 1930`s as Mum prepared to leave her village home to train as a nurse.

I remember eating this crab apple jelly as a child, and the enticing scent of the jelly-juice boiling in the pan took me back many years. The picking and preserving of fruit is a timeless task. Something that links us to our great grandmothers and those who went before.

Crab Apple Jelly

Wash and cut the crab apples into halves.
Cover the crabs with water in a heavy pan and boil slowly until soft and broken, then pass through a jelly bag ( muslin).
Allow one pint of juice to one pound of sugar and boil until the jelly will set.

( From Practical Cookery, compiled by Amy Atkinson and Grace Holroyd , price Two Shillings)


Kath said...

You have to give it to them, the crows and magpies arent daft are they? This jelly looks lovely, my Brothers partner made me some which we ate with goats cheese yummee!

Bovey Belle said...

I won't be making any this year as there's some in the storecupboard still from last Autumn! I enjoyed seeing you make yours on this thread though! Nice to know you are really enjoying your retirement now you are in a time when you would have been normally back at work...

rachel said...

Lovely! I'm waiting and watching the crab apple trees down in the park for the right moment to go out with a large bag and a tall friend. Then I will have that enticing smell and the gleaming jars of clear pink jelly too....

Morning's Minion said...

I can almost smell the apples stewing away.
I had hopes of crab apple jelly. A dooryard tree bloomed extravagently, but the sparse fruit is tiny like wild cherries. Maybe the tree is merely ornamental.
I'm noticing that your "crabs" have a slightly elongated shape. The ones I'm faniliar with are very round.
I'm not sure I've quite adjusted to retirement, now six months along. The structure of our days is not now so tightly planned as before, but I find I like a seasonal pattern--mixed with doses of spontaneity.

Angie said...

That brought back memories of making Japonica Jelly from a neighbours bush ...many years ago. It was a lot of work for a small yeild but so worth it... I think it was the jelly bag bit that used to bug me as I didn't want to wait .lol

bellaboo said...

Oh, nice to use the old family recipes.Thank you for visiting and leaving a lovely comment.We stopped off at Fritham in the New Forest on our way back from Devon and had lunch at the Royal oak...very nice! :o)

Kate on Clinton said...

Sounds delicious! My parents live in an apple orchard (apx 150 trees) in NH, and they are always looking for something new to do with them. They have seen animals drunk on the fermented fallen fruit in the field.

WOL said...

Do my eyes deceive me, or are those "Bon Maman" jam jars? Would you believe I buy "Bon Maman" cherry jam (my favorite!) at my local grocery here in Texas! Their jars are wonderful! How do you seal the jars once the jelly is in?

Dartford Warbler said...

We have tried some of the crab apple jelly and yes, it is delicious! I`m hoping for enough to make another batch at the weekend.

Hello Wol and welcome. Yes, those are Bon Maman jam jars. Wonderful jam. My OH loves the Wild Blueberry Conserve and we have collected masses of jars over the years. They recycle well for home made preserves. If the lids are cleaned and boiled for ten minutes before using, they seem to work well for a long time. The top "blister" doesn`t always flatten, but the seal is good enough for the jam to last for many months.