Rare are the thoughts of food over the course of my life that does not include preserving, freezing or storing food. Preserving food in the typical sense – making a jelly or jam, pickling beets or Lady Rose relish, or canning a small batch of fig jam or peaches with raisins ready to throw into a pie crust at a moments notice.
Having preserves on hand when you need a taste of summer or a special ingredient to bring a bland sandwich to life (think fig jam) is a luxury I likely take for granted. Especially when I see the price of preserves at the grocery store or farmer’s market. I am thankful that I was raised surrounded by friends and family that regularly preserved seasonal foods to enjoy at a later date – perhaps the middle of winter when such foods were nowhere to be found!
I guarantee you cannot find fresh crab apples in Alberta in January, so I like to make a large batch of crabapple jelly in September to give as gifts and to savour on scones when the snow starts to fly. I have never had a crab apple tree in my yard, but over the years I have been given a bounty of crabapples from friends and family that had an abundance of fruit on their trees. If you walk around your neighbourhood, you’re likely to find a tree laden with fruit. If you’re really nice and you offer up a few jars of jelly, it’s likely your neighbour will let you pick their crabapples so that you can preserve your own batch of sweet, yet tart crabapple jelly.
You will need:
13 cups of crabapples – about 4 lbs.(3.25L) (stemmed and halved)
Put crabapples in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour cooked crab apples into a jelly bag or strainer lined with cheesecloth over a bowl to catch the juice. Allow juice to drip about 8 hours or overnight.
When the juice is ready: (at this point you could freeze the juice and make jelly in the future if you really had no time to make the jelly now)
Measure crab apple juice into a large stainless steel pot.
Measure 2/3 cup (150mL) sugar for each 1 cup (250mL) of crab apple juice
For each 1 cup of crabapple juice add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1. Add sugar, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and returns to a full boil.
2. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture reaches gel stage (20 to 30 minutes)
3. At this point make sure you have your canner pot ready with boiling water, submerge 5 clean half-pint (250 mL) mason jars into the canner. Sterilize for 15 minutes. Place snap lids into canner for 5 minutes to soften the rubber seal. Remove jars and snap lids from canner pot.
4. Quickly pour jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving a 1\4 inch head space. Wipe jar rims to remove any stickiness. Center snap lids and screw on bands until just tightened. Place jars in canner.
5. Cover canner. Bring to boil, process 15 minutes (depending on your altitude). Gently remove jars.
6. Cool for 24 hours.
7. Check that the jar lids sealed – sealed lids curve downwards.
The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.