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.

Mulled Cranberry Apple Cider

This is very similar to my mulled cider recipe here, but I have given it a Christmas tweak.

Cranberry Mulled Cider1

You can totally make a non-alcoholic version of this to make it family friendly, just substitute the cider for apple juice (and leave out any rum or brandy!)

I love creating recipes that make me think of cozy evenings in front of a crackling log fire, with perhaps snow falling outside, or a storm raging on a winter’s night, while I am warm and snuggly inside!

Cranberry Mulled Cider4

If a snow storm was raging outside and you are indeed sitting by that crackling log fire, then this will definitely warm the soul too.

1.5 litres of hard dry cider (use good quality apple juice if making a non-alcoholic version)
0.5 litres of pure cranberry juice
3-4 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
1 orange, stuck with 10 cloves
1 punnet of fresh cranberries
¼ fresh nutmeg – grated
2 small apples, cored and cut into chunks
2 clementines, cut into segments
½ cup (packed) brown sugar
Maple syrup or honey – adjust to preferred level of sweetness
Brandy or rum to spike – optional

Mulled Cranberry Cider3

Add everything, except the maple syrup or rum if using and heat gently over a low to medium heat and allow all the flavours to mingle. Leave on a low heat for around 20 minutes. Don’t allow the cider to boil. You can also do this in a crockpot or slow cooker if you have one.  Taste and add a little maple syrup or honey to sweeten a little.

Serve hot in heatproof glasses or mason jars with a shot of brandy or rum if desired and decorated with a cinnamon stick.

Cranberry mulled cider

The non-alcohol version would be lovely for Christmas morning, opening presents with the children.

Apple and Blackberry Cobbler

The weather is getting cooler and the nights are starting to draw in, thoughts are turning to recipes baked with seasonal fruit and spices.

Apples and blackberries are a classic combination and I often make apple and blackberry pies and crumbles.  For a change, this is a cobbler and uses buttermilk and melted butter in the ‘cobbles’ which makes the topping very tender and moist.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler2

The sweet fruit and spices all baked together makes the kitchen smell wonderful.  The finished cobbler has sweet, juicy fruit on the bottom and the gently spiced topping is soft on the inside and a little crusty and golden on the top.  It’s the perfect alternative to a crumble or a pie and really easy to make.

Although the temptation is to dive straight in the finished pudding, it’s best to leave it to cool a little before serving as the filling is incredibly hot straight from the oven.

Filling:
3-4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 punnet of sweet blackberries, washed
Juice of half a lemon
150g brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon
A pinch of ground cloves
1tbs cornflour

Topping:
250g self-raising flour
150g butter, melted
240g buttermilk
100g sugar
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp cinnamon
A little melted butter for brushing

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F and butter a baking dish

Place the sliced apples, spices, cornflour, lemon juice and sugar in a pan and heat gently.  When the sugar has melted and the juices thickened a little, place into a bowl and gently stir in the blackberries.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler

Place into the buttered dish and prepare the topping.

For the topping, place the flour, salt, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and mix together.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter and buttermilk.  Stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler1

Using a medium-sized ice cream scoop, or two spoons, drop spoonfuls of the batter over the fruit and top with a little extra brown sugar.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler3

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the cobbler is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cobbles comes out clean.  When the cobbler is removed from the oven and still hot, brush the top with a little melted butter.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler5

This is best served warm and is good with ice cream, custard, whipped cream, or just on its own.  It’s also good cold the next day.

Apple Blackberry Cobbler4