Crab Apple Jelly

Crab apple jelly is a staple foraging recipe and really easy to make too. If you don’t have a jelly bag, a coffee filter or a muslin square in a sieve over a bowl will do the job.

Crab apples are ready from late August onwards, depending on what type you can find. If you are unsure whether they are ripe or not, cut one open – if the seeds are dark brown, then they are ripe.

If you don’t have a crab apple tree in your garden, then you can find them growing in the woods and parks or I’ve heard that you can sometimes find them at a farmers market or farm shop, although I’ve never seen them for sale.

Crab apple jelly can be made in small quantities and there is already lots of pectin in them, so you don’t need to go out and buy special jam sugar. However, if you are nervous about it setting, then you can always slice in a lemon (with the pips) which will help.

The final colour of your jelly will depend on what colour your apples are, but as long as you don’t squeeze or prod the bag, it should be crystal clear.

Ingredients:
Crab apples
One lemon
White granulated sugar

I picked up a couple of varieties here, the larger oval ones are always ready in August, but the smaller ones are usually later. I think everything has ripened quicker in the recent heatwave

Method:
Wash the crab apples and remove any spent blossoms (beards) and stems. However, if your apples are really tiny, you can leave them whole, but its best to cut off any bruises and if you are worried about any creatures lurking inside then cut them in half.

Place them in a saucepan, or a preserving pan if making a larger quantity, along with the sliced lemon and add enough water to almost cover the apples.

Bring the pan up to the boil and then simmer gently for around 40 minutes, or until the apples are soft and broken down, you can give them a gentle mash with a potato masher to help this along.

These little jars make great gifts, especially if you dress them up with a fabric cover

When ready, carefully fill your waiting jelly bag or prepared sieve and muslin with the fruit and leave to drain preferably overnight until every last drop has strained through. Just remember not to squeeze or ‘help’ the liquid come through, or your final jelly will be cloudy.

When you are ready to make the jelly, place a few plates into the freezer so that you can test if the jelly is ready to set.

Weigh the liquid and then weigh out three quarters of sugar to the liquid (I do admit to asking Alexa to help me with the sums!)

Place the liquid into a saucepan, add the sugar and stir over a medium heat until you are sure all the sugar has dissolved.

Turn the heat up until boiling and skim off any foam that rises to the surface. This will help your final jelly be as clear as possible.

Boil for around 8-10 minutes before testing to see if its ready to set. You can also use a candy thermometer. When it reaches 105°C/220°F, it should be at setting point, but the wrinkle test will work just as well.

Take a teaspoon of the jelly and drop it onto a cold plate and push with the back of a spoon. If it wrinkles, then it’s ready to pot.

Using a ladle and preferably a funnel, pot into sterilised jars and put the lids on right away.

Keep in a cool dark place until you are ready to use.

The little jars are great to take along on a picnic, but they also make nice gifts or part of a hamper

I served the jelly on a big, craggy fruit scone, just the thing for a late summer afternoon in the garden

The jelly can be served as an accompaniment to roasted or grilled meat, or served on toast, muffins or scones.

Skillet Baked Eggs with Creamed Greens and Mushrooms

I loved baked eggs and I make them a lot, I normally use ramekins see here and here, but its a great idea to do the whole lot in a skillet as there is less washing up and the edges get all crispy in the oven.

This recipe uses my favourite cavolo nero kale and rainbow chard, but any dark green leafy vegetables can be used like spinach, savoy cabbage or spring greens. I like to use the stems on the chard too, but they do take a little longer to cook.

I’ve used Comte cheese here, as it’s such a good melting cheese and is great with the eggs too. Gruyere, Emmental, Gouda or good old Cheddar would all be good too.

Lots of people add garlic to their baked eggs and if that’s your thing, go for it. I’m not a big fan and prefer this without, but sometimes add a few chives for extra flavour.

I’ve used an 8 inch cast iron skillet here which is nice for two people to share but you can always double the recipe in a larger skillet for a family size dinner. Just cover the handle of the hot skillet if any children are eating!

Ingredients:

2 Eggs
Large bunch of your chosen dark leafy greens I have used kale and rainbow chard – well washed
A handful of chestnut/cremini mushrooms
Comte cheese
150ml Double/heavy cream (a small pot)
1 heaped teaspoon of Dijon mustard
A little butter and olive oil for sautéing
Thyme, a couple of teaspoon of the leaves stripped from the stalks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread and butter to serve – I’ve toasted mine using a griddle

Method:

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F

Wash and prepare the vegetables by first stripping off the tough ribs from the kale and then if you are using both parts of the chard, remove the stems and chop them fairly small.

Plunge the kale and chard greens into the boiling water and blanch for just one minute. Take them out and place in iced water to stop the cooking. When cold, drain, squeeze out the excess water, roughly chop and place to one side.

Heat your skillet and add a little butter and olive oil (which will stop the butter burning). When sizzling, add the chopped chard and sauté for a couple of minutes or until translucent, then add your sliced mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are nicely browned and then add the thyme and the rest of the greens until heated through.

Add the cream and mustard, heat gently until thickened and check the seasoning. Turn off the heat and stir through the cheese.

Make a couple of hollows with the back of a spoon and carefully crack an egg into each one, taking care not to break the yolk if possible. Then season the yolks with a little salt and bake until the whites are just set. The idea is for the yolks to stay runny so you can dip your toasted bread in, so keep an eye on them.

This recipe can easily be scaled up for more people and its nice to place on the table for people to tuck in.