Seductively warm and amber
Crab apples are rough and ready - don't overlook the rough diamonds.
We are in fully fledged Autumn now, I've spent the last few weeks denying this possibility, indulging in my annual lament at the loss of summer. Luckily the compensation is huge once you accept the departure of the luscious soft fruits, the bright greens, yellows and reds of the peas, pods and shoots and embrace the prospect of building up the larder, preserving the spectrum of Autumn's palate. Damsons, crab apples, plums, blackberries are abundant now, with the quinces and sloes to come.
In the midst of a South London estate lies Moorlands, a tiny treasure of wildlife, nurtured by a community of urban food growers. I was given these crab apples to experiment with.
Crab apples are easy to overlook, they are blighted with dark spots and blemishes and far from the perfect forms we are now accustomed to measuring our foods with. As my pot of crab apples simmered, the sweet perfumed smell of prunus filled the house.
I would implore you not to be put off with the straining and measuring that making a jelly calls for. It really is very little 'actual' time. If you don't have a jelly bag, then a sieve lined with muslin will suffice. And the results by far outweigh the effort.
Thank you lovely folk from Moorlands!
Now what can I preserve.......
This recipe is from the WI Book of Preserves.
(I did not use a lemon and it still worked fine)
- 1 kilo crab apples
- 450gms caster sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Simply wash the crab apples, removing the leaves.
- Cover in water and bring to the boil, simmer for about 30 minutes, until soft. Mash.
- Pour into a jelly strainer and leave overnight. DO NOT PUSH THE MASH THROUGH. (This will cause the jelly to be cloudy).
- The next day pour the liquid into a saucepan and measure 450gm caster sugar for 600ml of liquid.
- Heat gently and then boil rapidly for about 10 minutes.
- Test for a set (crinkle test on a cold saucer).
- Pour into hot jars and seal.