Crab Apple Jelly


Kelly Rossiter Photo
Kelly Rossiter

Of all of the preserves I made last season, crab apple jelly was one of my favourites. I love the beautiful jewel colour of the jelly, and the tartness of it is just perfect on my tongue. We have a crab apple tree in our front yard and in all the 25 years I have lived there, it never occurred to me to harvest those apples and cook them up. Last year, my daughter and I were shopping at the farmers' market by our cottage and they had baskets of beautiful crab apples. We looked at each other and said, why didn't we think of that?

These days I spend most of my summer away from home so I'm not there for the harvest time, but I'm hoping to get my son and daughter to do it and then bring them up to me so I can do the jelly again this year. The tree was absolutely covered with unripened fruit when I left, so I should be able to make lots of jelly this year.

My cottage neighbour told me that her mother used to make jellies out of all kinds of berries that she foraged around here. Instead of using a jelly bag, she had an old white cotton pillowcase that she used year after year, dyed with the colours of all the fruits she had used over the years. I believe my grandmother did the same thing making grape jelly.

Make sure you follow the instructions for the gel stage test that follows the recipe, otherwise you will have crab apple soup.

This recipe is from Canadian Living, July 2008


6 lb crab apples
4‑1/2 cups granulated sugar


  1. Remove both stem and blossom ends from crab apples. Do not peel or core. In large Dutch oven, bring crab apples and 6 cups water to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until softened. Using potato masher, crush crab apples; cook for 5 minutes longer.
  2. Wet and wring out jelly bag; suspend on frame over large measuring cup or bowl. Fill with crab apples; let drip, without squeezing bag, for about 2 hours or until juice measures 6-1/2 cups, adding up to 1-1/2 cups water if necessary.
  3. In large clean Dutch oven, bring juice with sugar to full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil for 15 to 18 minutes or until gel stage. (See Gel Stage Test, below) Remove from heat; skim off foam.
  4. Using funnel, fill hot 1-cup canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Cover with prepared lids. Screw on bands until resistance is met; increase to fingertip tight. Boil in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Gel Stage Test:

  1. Remove jelly from heat while doing test.
  2. Chill two or three small plates in freezer.
  3. Place 1 tsp (5 mL) hot jelly or jam on plate and freeze for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from freezer. Surface should wrinkle when edge is pushed with finger.
  5. If surface doesn't wrinkle, continue cooking and repeat test every few minutes.
This recipe appears in: Dips & Spreads
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