Crab Apple Jelly

Fall is the time for crab apples, with their impossibly tart, mouth-puckering taste.  Making jelly is a bit of a process but so worth it when you see the beautiful garnet jelly.There are about 100 varieties of crab apples.  The ones I have had the most success with are small and slightly oval with a bright red skin. Pick about 8 cups of these.  Wash and take the stems off.  Put in a bowl with about 5 cups of water (crab apples should not be floating).  Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 20 minutes or so. At this point, you have to strain the juice. You can do this several ways. If you have a sieve and cheesecloth, wet the cheesecloth and place into the sieve, then setover a really deep bowl or pot.  Pour in the hot apples/juice and let drip for a few hours.  You can also use an old pillowcase (be sure it wasn’t washed with fabric softener) or a really fine sieve like a chinoise (a conical sieve), if you own one. Avoid pressing on the apple solids to get more juice – this will make the jelly cloudy and a good crab apple jelly is judged by whether one can read through the jelly. 

Once all the juice has dripped out, pour into a pan.  Add three cups of sugar and bring to a boil.  Cook until the jelly gets thick and passes the wrinkle test (place a teaspoon full of the hot liquid on a plate and place in the freezer for 3 minutes – whenyou push the jelly with your finger, it should wrinkle up). Take off the heat and pour into a well-washed jar that has been placed in a 250 degree ovenfor 10 minutes. Let cool. Enjoy. -Irene Ens