Sunday, September 25, 2011

HA! Krabappel jelly!

At the grocery store today, I was gripped by one of my "I've never made ______ before! I must make it now!" fits. It was triggered by finding crab apples in season and on sale, plus the fact that tonight is the season premier of The Simpsons, so I give you...

It turned out to be quite simple, even for someone who had never made the stuff before. I started with a recipe over at Canadian Living and cut it in half... I hadn't bought a ton of crab apples (I got about 3 lbs), and I wasn't sure how it would turn out, so didn't want a large batch if I didn't like it. The prep was a breeze... no peeling required, I just removed the stems and the flower ends, cut them roughly in half and tossed them in a large pot. For this simple detail alone I am enamored of this recipe! Add a few cups of water and let the whole thing simmer for a bit until it was soft. Then I ran a potato masher through it to break up the large pieces and let it simmer a bit further.

I may have let it cook a little too long as my end result was more like apple sauce than anything I could really get juice out of, so I stirred in a few cups of apple juice and poured the whole mess into a jelly bag to drain. While you can do this without a jelly bag (most recipes will recommend cheesecloth), I find it worth the couple dollars it will cost you to get one, if you plan on going to the trouble to make jelly. I put a plate and some cans on top to make sure I got as much liquid as possible, though doing this will result in a slightly cloudy jelly. I decided in the interest of getting enough liquid to complete the recipe, I could live with cloudy jelly.

So, once it was done draining, back into the pot it went, this time with a healthy dose of sugar (as per the recipe). The wonderful thing about apple jams and jellies is since they already contain a heap of natural pectin, you don't have to add any. I brought it to a low boil and kept an eye on it for about 15 minutes. While I don't think you need to stir constantly as the recipes will tell you, you do *not* want to wander off for more than a minute or two, as anything with that much molten sugar can boil over and/or burn very quickly. So I puttered around the kitchen while it cooked down and after about 15 minutes, it passed the gel stage test with flying colors (if you're not familiar with this, check out the steps towards the bottom of the recipe on the Canadian Living website... it is super simple and invaluable when making jams or jellies!). Skimming the foam off the top is essential when making jelly (helps keep it clear) and I find it much easier to do after letting it cool in the pot slightly. Into three little jars it went and in the water bath for 10 minutes, and that was it.

A quick taste test as it cooled was enough to tell me I shall be making this stuff again... beautiful fiery red jelly with a fresh, sweet apple flavor:

Jam or jelly making is never a super-quick operation, and requires some special but inexpensive equipment, but having this as an end result definitely makes it worth investing an hour of your time on a warm fall afternoon! Now you'll excuse me while I go knit tiny green cardigans for the jars ;)

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