So, I was helping some friends load a bunch of seed-starting supplies they bought off me last night, and I noticed some very nice-looking crab apples lying on their trailer. Picking one up, I inhaled its fragrance, thought it good, and asked if those little apples came from a tree of theirs.
They said their tree’s fruit was ripe and ready to pick–NOW. And that I should come and take as much as I wanted.
So, having a few cases of canning jars left to fill, I decided perhaps this afternoon’s canning project could be crabapple jelly. A triple batch of crab apple jelly.
I magically managed to pick exactly the right amount–10 1/2 lbs of little apples–about 1/4 of them under-ripe to make up for a pectin-free recipe. I had to really look for those unripe ones!
Dean and Vikki’s crab apples are the perfect kind–not those whimpy little flowering crab fruits that are tinier than a pie cherry, but the big ones off a tree that was bred for good fruit–not fancy flowers. They’re not quite as aromatic as the ones I got from a friend last year, but they’re still very nice–a little perfume-y.
I got them home, pared off the blossom and stem ends, and simmered them down to mush before straining the juice through a linen napkin (the cheesecloth sold in stores is pretty worthless for these types of projects–bits of pulp escape into the juice through the wide holes).
It’s always the juice-straining that takes forever. You think making a batch of jelly’s going to be quick and easy–certainly the BWB processing time is short–but straining a couple of cups of pulp at a time for the juice–then going back and re-straining because you don’t have quite enough–that’s the part that gets you.
But I got my twelve cups of juice and blended it with twelve cups of sugar (yeah, that’s why I hardly ever make–or eat–jelly), brought it to a boil, watched it start to gel off the edge of the spoon, then skimmed, jarred, and processed.
Now there are nineteen half-pints of jelly sitting like garnet gems on the kitchen table. I’ve still got a case of half-pints left that I’d like to fill with a savory hot sauce. Then four cases of quarts (Uff-da!), one more case of pints, and the jars are all filled!
Unless, of course, some doubtless well-meaning soul shows up at my door with armloads of empty jars from canned goods I’ve given them over the years–wanting to be sure to get them all back to me before I go.
If you’re that well-meaning soul and you are reading this–it’s OK. There’s lots of folks needier for jars than I cruising the Civic Council aisles. I’m sure a donation will be greatly appreciated!