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Crabapple and Thyme Jelly

Crabapples can’t be eaten raw and require cooking. This is an excellent way to use them as their high pectin content makes a great jelly that sets beautifully. If you don’t have crabapples, use cooking apples. Good with game terrine, duck, slow-roast pork belly and soft, sharp goat’s cheese.

Preparation

Place a small plate in the freezer.

Wash and cut up the apples, leaving on the skins and cores. Wash and slice the lemon.

Scald the jelly bag or muslin in a kettle of hot water to sterilise it. Sterilise the jars, by boiling both jars and lids and then drying out in the oven at 110C for 20 minutes.

Wash the thyme and pick the leaves from one sprig.

Method

Place the crabapples in a large saucepan, lay on the lemon and sprigs of thyme and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and gently cook for one hour, until completely soft.

Strain through the bag or muslin into a clean pot and leave overnight to drip. Don’t squeeze the bag or the jelly will be cloudy. Next day, measure the liquid and discard the bits left in the bag.

For every 600 ml of liquid, add 450 g of sugar. Add the vinegar and bring slowly to the boil. Once the sugar dissolves, increase the heat and take the jelly to104.5°C/220°F on a sugar thermometer. Skim the scum with a slotted spoon, to give a clear jelly.

Once setting point is reached, check the set, using the cold plate (104.5C on a jam thermometer). Add the thyme leaves, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then pour into the sterilised jars. Seal the jars while hot, then allow to cool.

This keeps for 12 months in a cool spot.

Preserving Top Tips

- Always use best quality fruit. Don’t be tempted to use fruit that is going over
- Cook the fruit before adding the sugar
- Get a good jam thermometer and use it; stop guessing
- Once on a rolling boil, stop stirring, or you will interrupt the set
- Pot the jam or jelly when its hot (above 85C) to get a good seal

Ingredients

Makes 8 × 220 ml jars

2kg Crabapples or cooking apples
1 Unwaxed lemon

20g Thyme

White granulated sugar (about 1.8 kg, depending on yield)
150 ml Cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Equipment

Sharp knife
Chopping board
Jelly bag or muslin measuring
60 × 60 cm
8 x 220 ml jars with lids
Large saucepan

Sugar thermometer
Slotted spoon