Oct 26, 2008

Apple Time

The trees are loaded with tasty small crab apples, and I picked a few to suck out the tart, sweet juice. "Why didn't you ask to pick them last year, too?" was the response of the manager when I requested permission to pick a bucket of the fruit for canning crab apple jelly.

A recipe for crab apple jelly was easily found. The easiest part was picking the tiny apples that looked like bunches of beautiful red and yellow cherries hanging from the bent branches. In no time at all, I had picked a full bucket. Once the apples were cleaned and cut up, they were added to a large pot for boiling with water to remove the juice and pectin.

Fortunately, I didn't have to use cheese cloth to extract the juice from the cooked apple pulp and water. Rather, I used Mother's old aluminum strainer with very small holes that she used to use to remove seeds from the tomato juice she was canning.

No pressing was done of the cooked crab apple mixure to insure a clear, non-cloudy jelly. Two days later I added sugar and began to boil away for over 1/2 hour to make over 4 pints of jelly. A little red food coloring made the jelly in the jars even prettier.

P.S. I've now made pectin from the crab apples. Rather than making crab apple jelly as above, I made strawberry preserves today using the juice/pectin from crab apples. There is a much better way to slice up the crab apples for cooking to get the juice and pectin.

Put the crab apples in a sealed gallon poly bag and take a hammer and smash each crabapple in the see-through bag. This method is much more efficient than using a knife. Smashing took me only 15 min while using a knife took me 1 hr 20 min. I didn't take off the apple stems or the hairy end of the apple before cooking the apples with added water. It didn't seem to make much difference than before when I sliced a thin piece off each end of each small crab apple. Here's a picture of the strawberry preserves cooking with the crab apple pectin. Ten and a half pints resulted.

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