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Crab Apple Jelly

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Harvested two five gallon buckets of crab apples the other day from the tree in a coworkers yard. 

Every recipe I've found seems simple enough but I wonder: 

Recipes generally say barely cover with water, simmer till soft, strain overnight through cheesecloth. Make jelly. 

That leaves behind lots of pulp and it would seem I am just making jam from the water the apples were cooked in.

I was thinking I'd pass them through a food mill to remove seeds and skin but utilize the pulp. 

No? 

post #2 of 13

Jelly would be clear, and you do waste a lot of apple. I make some jelly every year. Nothing better than apple jelly on goof buttered toast or with peanut better.

Peel and core and make some butter if you don't want to waste a bunch.

post #3 of 13
The pulp in crab apples is very enzymatic, and can destroy the gelling process. Try leaving just one or two jars to experiment with; in one, go plain (include pulp with liquid), and in the other add pectin. See what happens.

My bet: the jelly will be much more successful. But keep us posted on what happens!


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post #4 of 13

Using the pulp you are making apple butter which is very good stuff! Mom used to make 48 quart jars of it and my family of 7 ate it every morning on toast!

post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLehrer View Post

The pulp in crab apples is very enzymatic, and can destroy the gelling process. Try leaving just one or two jars to experiment with; in one, go plain (include pulp with liquid), and in the other add pectin. See what happens.

My bet: the jelly will be much more successful. But keep us posted on what happens!


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Chris, crab apples may be enzymatic, but as with many enzymatic foods chances are those enzymes are destroyed during cooking.  I have found a number of recipes for Crap Apple Jam all over the internet, and while you can't always trust what you read on the internet some of those recipes come from places that I trust.

 

The reason why they have you strain the liquid off of the pulp is that jelly, by its definition, is just the jelled juice of the fruit, and thus should not contain the pulp.  That's what makes it different from jam and other jelled preserves.  Sure, it can be a waste, but it depends on what you are looking for in your end product. 

 

Personally, I've made Crab Apple Jelly and it is an awesome product.  I've never made jam or butter from crab apples so I can't say what the end product is like.  I imagine that jam would be fine.  I would wonder about Apple Butter from crab apples though.  Seems like you'd have to add a ton of sugar and spices to combat their natural tannins.  Would love to hear more from anyone whose had experience in this though.

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

A quick update before I head to work.

  

     One five gallon bucket has been cooked. I don't know what variety of crab apple I got.

      They are very hard, requiring a solid chef's knife to cut through.  Once cooked, they don't break down much at all. The water they are cooked in is the same in amount after cooking but full of pectin and colored like light apple cider.  Some liquid spilled on the counter was quite sticky  and jelly-like after sitting for a while.  The cooked ones retain their shape so draining is simple and quick. 

     I ran some cooked ones through the food mill and added sugar to the pulp.  Sweet and apple tasting but not great. I doubt I'll go any further with that. 

So far I have just over a gallon of "juice". 

More later. 

post #7 of 13

You may have enough natural pectin's from the skin for it to set on its own.

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryB View Post

You may have enough natural pectin's from the skin for it to set on its own.

Good point!


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post #9 of 13

I've made it with a friend the last couple of years. Rock hard little crab-apples. PITA to cut up. Very seedy. Wouldn't want to even try to put that mess through a food mill. They do have enough pectin that I've never added any. One batch we made didn't seem to be setting up,so we cooked the bejesus out of it. It became very dark, a bit syrupy thick and somewhat caramelized and it was AWESOME. I love the stuff. I've used it instead of current jelly as a glaze as well.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Finally ready to make the jelly. 27 cups of juice, now on the stove reducing a bit.

I went to buy pectin but the ingredients list is Dextrose, citric acid, pectin.

I already have sugar and citric acid and if they are the dominant ingredients in commercial pectin, why buy it?

I'm following the Ball Book of Home Preserving and so far haven't discovered any explanation for this.  

post #11 of 13

Pectin requires sugar to set...

 

But if you are reducing the juice use a spoon you keep in the freezer and check it, the Ball Blue Book has pictures of how it should sheet on a cold spoon. You may not need pectin.

post #12 of 13

I really don't think you need pectin as an additive unless you want it to be a very firm jelly.  Homemade, natural pectin is made by boiling apple skins and cores or crabapples themselves and reducing the liquid. 

post #13 of 13
Natural apple pectin is abundant in green/partially ripe apples. Crab apples have very little pectin, and ripe crab apples none. Partially ripe or green crab apples will give you the "liqui-farts". You could do a 50/50 blend of crab and quince, or a blend of crab and other apples if you don't want to use additional pectin.

We grew up with crab apples. If you break a branch off of a tree, you have plenty of ammunition for apple fights, green apples you can't eat, ripe ones are mealy and mushy, so the only practical thing is to have apple wars
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