Easy Crab Apple Jelly is sweet, tangy and delicious, the perfect way to preserve crab apples! It doesn’t require a jelly bag, stand, upturned stool or kitchen door knob, just a colander and a pair of tights, muslin or tea towel set over a pan. Couldn’t be easier!
In early September I went off looking for elderberries and came across lots of crab apple trees in a nearby park. After a quick web search I realised that the yellowish crab apples with a pink tinge weren’t going to be ripe yet so I left them alone.
Hence, I went back in early October when all the crab apples had ripened and turned a lovely dark pink and almost looked like cherries. I picked a bag full and stored in my fridge for 2 weeks until I had time to develop a crab apple recipe!
My crab apple jelly uses just 3 ingredients, crab apples, sugar and a lemon. I added a lemon for a bit of tang, brightness and it also provides additional pectin for a quicker set.
Where can you find crab apples?
Crab apples aren’t available in the supermarket but they grow on trees in gardens, parks or can be foraged for in woods, parks etc.
When are crab apples ready for picking?
Crab apples ripen from late September to October. They range in colour according to variety from yellow through to red and anything in between.
How do you know if crab apples are ripe?
The best way to tell if a crab apple is ripe is to cut it in half and if the seeds are dark brown then you know it’s ripe.
Can you eat crab apples?
When ripe they taste tart but with a familiar hint of sweetness you get from dessert apples, so they’re not an eating apple.
Why are crab apples good for jelly making.
Crab apples are perfect for jelly making as they are naturally high in pectin which is necessary for setting.
Do you need to remove the stems from the crab apples to make jelly?
No, as long as you wash the crab apples thoroughly this is an unnecessary step that would take up valuable time as they don’t detach easily.
How do you prevent jelly from going cloudy?
Never squeeze the pulp or jelly bag or the result will be cloudy jelly which would be a shame as the colour is like that of a precious stone!
How do you stop jelly setting before you pot it up?
Once your jelly has reached setting point keep your jelly on the lowest heat which will prevent the jelly from setting before it reaches the jars.
What is Crab Apple Jelly used for?
Crab is the perfect accompaniment to lamb, pork, game, cheese or just spread on bread and butter.
Why is it best to use smaller jars for jelly?
It’s best to use smaller jars to store jelly to avoid it breaking up with use and going runny over time.
How long will Crab Apple Jelly keep for?
Crab Apple Jelly can be stored in a cool dark place for up to a year but once open should be kept in the fridge and consumed within a couple of months.
More Jelly Recipes
If you need more jelly recipe inspiration after making my Easy Crab Apple Jelly then here are some more recipe ideas:
- Easy Blackberry & Apple Jelly
- Gooseberry, Apple & Mint Jelly
- Quince Jelly
- White Currant Jelly
- Easy Redcurrant & Port Jelly
- Raspberry Mint Jelly
How do you make Easy Crab Apple Jelly?
The full recipe is at the bottom of this post.
- You will need crab apples, a lemon and sugar (amount will be determined later).
- Remove beards from crab apples (leave stems) and wash.
- Halve crab apples and slice lemon.
- Place in a preserving pan or similar with water.
- Bring pan to boil then simmer for 25 – 30 mins, crushing apples as they cook.
- Once crab apples pulpy, remove from heat.
- Pour into a jelly bag or use my hack (see notes in recipe below). Leave to strain overnight.
- Result will be pink juice.
- Add 450g granulated sugar for every 575 ml of juice (this equates to 78%). I ask Google to do the math:-)
- Place pan over a low heat and stir until sugar completely dissolved.
- Bring to a rolling boil.
- Either use a digital thermometer to test when 105C is reached or time for 20 mins.
- Remove pan from heat and test a few drops of jelly on a chilled saucer. It should crinkle when a finger pushed through.
- If ready, place pan over a low heat and skim off the scum. (You don’t want it setting yet).
- Pot up into sterilised jars using a ladle and jam funnel.
- Place lids on immediately.
I’m sure you’ll love my Easy Crab Apple Jelly recipe, my dad raved about it and said it really brought out the flavour of his roast lamb and my neighbour really enjoyed hers with cheese and biscuits!
Don’t forget to share your jelly creations with me by tagging @FabFood4All on social media.
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Easy Crab Apple Jelly
- 2 kg crab apples halved (washed & drained, beards removed, leave stems in tact)
- 1 unwaxed lemon sliced
- 1.365 kg granulated sugar approx., will vary, see instructions below
- 2.5 L water
- Place the halved crab apples, lemon slices and 2.5 litres of water into a preserving pan or similar.
- Bring to the boil and then simmer for 25 – 30 mins until pulpy. Use a potato masher or side of a wooden spoon to squash the crab apples as they cook.
- Pour the fruity liquid into a jelly bag (or see my hacks in Notes section if you don’t have one) and leave to drain over a large pan or bowl overnight. Do not, repeat not, squeeze the bag or you will have cloudy jelly.
- The next day, measure the juice (mine yielded 1.75 L).
- Pour juice into a preserving pan with 450 g of granulated sugar for every 575 ml of juice. The easiest way to work this out is to calculate 78% or your juice figure which will give you your sugar weight. Tip: ask Google to do the maths!
- Place the pan over a gentle heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. The pan must not bubble. Drag a wooden spoon over the pan to check there are no more sugar crystals.
- Bring the pan to a rolling boil, stirring frequently until setting point is reached, which is 105 C. My jelly reached this stage at 21 mins but this will vary so if you don’t have a digital thermometer best to check a few minutes before.
- Remove the pan from the heat and test for set by placing a few drops of jelly on a chilled sauce and place in fridge for 30 seconds.
- The jelly is ready if a crinkle forms when you push your finger through it. If it’s not ready, carry on boiling for a minute at a time and re-test until set is achieved.
- Put the jelly on a low heat and remove any scum with a slotted spoon as the jelly otherwise the jelly will start to set and this process will become difficult.
- Keep over a low heat and pots up into sterilised jars to stop the jelly setting before it reaches the jars. Small jars are best, I filled nearly 8.
- Place lids on immediately and allow to cool.
- Store in a cool, dark place where it will keep for 1 year. Once open store in the fridge and use within a few months.
Sterilise 8 small jars by washing in hot soapy water (or take straight from dishwasher), fill with boiling water, empty and then place in oven for 20 minutes at 140°C where you leave them until the jam is ready. Washed lids should be sterilised with boiling water and then left to drain. (If not fully dry you can pop lids in the oven along with the jars with just the fan running after the jars have had their 20 mins or heating).
To make a strainer if you don’t have a jelly bag etc, put a colander into a new pair of tights (you can sterilise in boiling water), tie the legs into a tight knot on the side and snip off the excess. You could also line a colander with clean net curtains, a tea towel or muslin.