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A good year for crab apples

Posted by Heather Greig, Editor, Gardens to Visit/Events on 14 Oct 2009 at 10:36 AM

Last year our crab apples mysteriously withered and turned black on the branches before having a chance to ripen. This year we have a bountiful crop. The small yellow fruits look glorious against a bright blue sky, and seem to shine out even on the dullest of days. The tree was in the garden when we moved here so I don't know what cultivar it is.



At the weekend I made spiced crab apple jelly (see below), which is fantastic on toast or stirred into porridge on a cold morning. There are still countless fruits left on the tree so I'll be making another batch this weekend, providing plenty of jars to give away to friends and relatives. But I'll be sure to leave the rest on the tree for the blackbirds that always seem to enjoy them in the depths of winter.


Recipe for Spiced Crab Apple Jam

Makes about 8 jars


2kg (4½ lb) crab apples

2.5 litres (4½ pints) water

16 whole cloves

8 pieces cinnamon

2 star anise

about 2kg (4½ lb) of preserving sugar




1 Wash apples and cut out any bad bits. Cut larger apples in half. Put all the ingredients except the sugar in a large preserving pan.


2 Bring to the boil then cover pan with a foil lid and simmer until soft and pulpy - about 40min.


3 Strain for 8 hours or overnight in a jelly bag over a large bowl. DO NOT SQUEEZE THE BAG.


4 Measure the juice back into the pan and add 500g sugar for every 500ml of the juice. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved then bring back to a brisk boil.


5 Boil rapidly for about 10-15 min. It should then show some reluctance to come off the spoon. Do not boil for longer than 20min.


6 Skim the top with a metal spoon to take off any scum, and then ladle into hot, sterilised jars, cover and seal.




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