I always thought that making jam was a really long complicated process that needed a whole cupboards worth of equipment. So when I visited my uncle and aunt recently and they asked me if I fancied making something with all the crab apples they had in the garden I wasn’t sure. A quick look for recipes on the old iPhone though made me change my mind. The recipe for Crab apple jelly actually sounded pretty simple. So out came the ladder and down came the apples!
I used the BBC Good Food recipe which called for
4 kg crab apples
1 kg caster sugar
1 lemon, juiced
Makes 6 x 500ml jars
Strainer (I got mine on sale for £3 on the John Lewis website they still have some left)
1. Wash and de stem the apples and remove any bruised ones. Even though we picked a giant bag of apples it wasn’t enough. I had enough to half the recipe with just over 2 kg’s.
5. The next day I had a lovely vat of juice but before I moved onto boiling it up I got prepared. I popped a couple of spoons into the fridge, this is to test the set later on. I then took my jars and gave them a good wash, I had 2 x 500ml jars and another random smaller jar for any extra. I considered buying a new set but I didn’t want to have to spend any more money than I had to for something that might not work!! I then put a sheet of brown baking paper on the shelf of the oven and put the jars on it. I turned up the oven to about 130 and left them in there to sterilise. (The recipe I used didn’t mention sterilising so I googled it to find out how to do it, there are many ways you can do this, hot water, microwave etc)
Now back to the juice, I poured it into a pan to bring to boil with the sugar and the lemon juice. The recipe calls for 10 parts juice to 7 of sugar but I just went for it and poured it all in. (500g as I halved the recipe)
7. I turned off the oven with the jars in it and left them too cool in there (they were in for about 20 mins). (Remember the glass jars will be so hot so you must use oven gloves even after you have left them to cool)
After around 40 mins of boiling and skimming I got one of my spoons out of the fridge and dipped it into the liquid. It should start to set on the back of the spoon. I say ‘should’ but I have to admit mine didn’t seem to be setting completely, it was certainly thickening but not setting so I boiled for a little longer.
I was convinced at this point that my jelly wasn’t going to work. I figured that I should just see what would happen once it was poured into the jars.
8. I ladled the mixture into my jars. I managed to fill the 2 x 500ml jars and one small jar (no idea what volume the small one was!) All I could do now was wait to see what would happen. I then realised the last bits of syrupy juice that were in the pan were setting and I thought, you know what this might just work. So I left them on the side and a couple of hours later I came back to find they had all set to a beautiful jelly. And here it is, I am so happy that it turned out so well. I took a jar to my mums for Sunday lunch and we had it with a starter of gorgeous pate from the local French market. I’m not going to be modest about this one either, it was blooming marvellous!! I will definitely be doing this again.
It has made me think about doing something a little more challenging next time, it’s so satisfying. Picking your own fruit and making it from scratch makes you feel like you are really living off the land! I think I might have to hit some of the ‘pick your own’ farms near me which is a great activity to do with the kids. My sister and I used to do this when visiting my nana in Kent when we were little and I remember it to this day.
So keep your eyes peeled for the cottage industry I now think I’m about to start in my imagination! I really want to try Caramelised Onion chutney too so I may try that before I move onto more complicated jams! Wish me luck.
Love Katy xx