Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nan Dean's Crabapple Jelly

There's a wild crabapple tree growing on the beach at the lake. It's at least 23 years old because that's how long ago it was that I tugged a root out of it's rocky home and transplanted it in our front yard- that tree is over 20 feet tall this year! Both trees are profuse with fragrant blooms in the spring and are home for birds, chipmunks and little brown squirrels that rely on its flowers, fruit and insect population- these inhabitants and their hijinks provide us with hours of hilarious entertainment year round.
I was walking by the tree on the beach last weekend and couldn't help but notice it was covered with large unblemished red apples~ more than I've ever seen before...I actually stopped to have a look at them. My sister-in-law came up behind me and commented on them as well- we both thought it seemed such a shame to let them drop and rot. She had a handwritten recipe for apple jelly from my husband's grandmother and we decided to make a batch on the weekend.
Sunday morning dawned sunny and bright and after shooing the kids to the beach, we set to work. We heated and sterlized the little jam jars ( my favorites are the stubby ones!) My nephews climbed the trees and picked the apples for us the night before--not counting the ones they bowled with or threw at each other, we ended up with two large bags full! We estimated about 6 pounds of apples- wash, cut off the stems and chop- didn't even have to remove the seeds. How easy is that?
Look at the sliced apples-- just like a sand dollar in the center and simply beautiful!

We boiled the apples with some water until they were soft and then strained them with cheesecloth and a strainer. It didn't seem possible we'd get 6 cups of juice from the mixture which seemed rather thick...and, the recipe specifically stated not to squish the apples-- but it would have taken all day for the juice to drip out so we encouraged a bit. We added a couple of ripe strawberries and a teaspoon of cranberry juice for color, the sugar and pectin, and boiled the whole mixture for just a few minutes until it thickened.

Next, we poured it into the little jars and left them to seal. It was a full morning's 'work' for 8 jars of jelly, but totally worth it, don't you think?


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