14 November 2010

14 November - Crab Apples, spiced and jellied

According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, Crab Apples (aka crabapples) are ripe now.

For those who have never encountered them, crab apples are a small and sour fruit (sometimes described as extremely tart, but I think that is being charitable) which adds a bit of zing to other apple recipes like cider.  As with rhubarb, if you add enough sugar, these tiny bombs with immense pucker-power become palatable.

SPICED CRAB APPLES for canning. A spicy accompaniment for meat.

Wash and sterilize jars.  This recipe makes about 4 pints; plan accordingly.

Wash 6 pounds of red crab apples (do not remove stems), and stick 2 or 3 whole cloves in each.

Tie 2 tablespoons of broken cinnamon sticks and 1 tablespoon of whole allspice loosely in a cheesecloth bag.

Make a syrup by combining 4 cups of cider vinegar, 4 cups of water, and 8 cups of sugar in a large kettle.  Add the spices in cheesecloth bag, and boil for 10 minutes.  Add a few drops of red food coloring; then add the crab apples, a few at a time, simmering each batch until tender (about 10 to 20 minutes).

Lift the crab apples out of the syrup with a slotted spoon and fill the hot jars with them.  Strain the syrup, bring it to a boil, fill the jars with syrup, and seal. [Do remember to remove the whole cloves before you eat them.]

Crab Apples are already high in pectin, so there is no need to add commercially bought pectin to this recipe.

This recipe makes about 6 half-pint jars.  Wash and sterilize jars.

You will need 4 cups of crab apple juice for this recipe, so start with 8 cups of crab apples, washed and cut into quarters [remove the stems and the blossom ends].  Put the apples in a large kettle and add enough water so that the water can be seen between the pieces of fruit, but not enough to make the pieces float.

Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until apples are soft.

Now, you can either go the modern route and strain the apple mixture through a couple of layers of cheesecloth, or you go the time-honored route and pour the whole mess into a pre-moistened jelly bag (an old, well-washed pillowcase will work also.  Just remember to wet it before pouring in the cooked fruit).  Suspend the bag over a bowl and let it hang until the juice no longer drips [this takes a while, usually overnight, so you can't be in a hurry here]. [AND DON'T SQUEEZE THE BAG!]

Once you have your juice, measure it out (you should have about 4 cups).  Pour the juice back into the kettle and discard the pulp from the cheesecloth or bag.  Bring the juice to a boil, skimming off any foam that forms.  Gradually add 3 cups of sugar and cook rapidly until the mixture begins to thicken and the temperature is about 215 - 220 degrees F. [Those of you who make jelly regularly already know how to recognize 'the jelly stage'].  When the jelly begins to sheet off from the spoon, remove from heat and skim off any remaining foam; pour into hot, sterilized jelly glasses and seal with paraffin.
From Life in the Breakdown Lane:

Saint Martin's Summer continuing through today, I have opened the windows of the house.  Candyman is now sitting on the window-seat with his head stuck out of the window, hoping and praying that one of the birds enjoying the bird-feeders will somehow mistake a large black-and-white cat for another feeder, and come over to investigate.