Goldenly Glowing Crab Apple Jelly Recipe

Goldenly Glowing Crab Apple Jelly Recipe

This crab apple jelly recipe is one to keep coming back to. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and tang. Plus, given crab apple season is towards the end of autumn, crab apple jelly is a great preserve to make ahead for Christmas. It will really sing alongside dalliances with festive cheese boards.

This recipe also allows for a little creativity if you want to go rogue and add a few different flavours. Sprigs of thyme would bring it into the more savoury spectrum, whereas extra cinnamon makes the jelly a great toast topper in the morning. I’m also keen to experiment with a drop of whisky/brandy in the mix, but ran out of time to experiment this year!

A little word about foraging and hunting for crab apples:

Finding crab apples to forage can be a little tricky. Not because of their rarity but because they’re quite small and fall at the same time as leaves in autumn. With this camouflage, you either sniff their cidery sweet scent before spotting them or feel a nobbly sensation under your shoe as you accidentally stand on one. I did the latter.

The thing with these mini apples is they are incredibly sour. You really cannot eat them until copious amounts of sugar have been added to prevent their mouth-puckering sensation. They are, however, well-charged with Vitamin C and many anti-oxidants. Once cooked their appley flavour truly begins to shine.

One thing I will say is when gathering crab apples for this recipe, don’t bring your dog. ┬áTilly, my miniature schnauzer, tends to get a little distracted when I’m preoccupied and picking. Unfortunately, the area where the crab apple tree was located also seemed to be popular amongst the local pheasant population. Tilly enjoys chasing pheasants. Even when they’re 30ft up in the air. I’m pretty sure every village in a 10-mile radius would have heard me trying to call her back.

Making Jelly:

The main basis for this recipe came from the inimitable Pam the Jam, whose books (affiliate link) are an absolute must-read for anyone interested in preserves. The important thing to remember is this is a jelly and not a jam. It needs to be just set and retain a slight flow.

The easiest way to test for this is the wrinkle test. When bringing the preserving pan to a boil, place a small plate in the freezer. When you think you’ve hit the temperature (105C) drop a small amount onto the cold plate. Wait a minute and then push your finger through the liquid. If a slight wrinkle appears on the surface then the jelly is ready. If not, boil for a little longer and test again.

Crab Apple Jelly Recipe:

This makes around 4 200ml jars.


  • 1kg Crab Apples
  • 500g of Sugar
  • Lemon
  • A few cloves – Around 5 to 10
  • A large, or two small, cinnamon sticks

a quick note – You will also need a jelly bag/muslin to strain the apples overnight

How to make Crab Apple Jelly:

  1. Wash your crab apples and remove any stalks, leaves or manky-looking bits. Then roughly chop and put in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Cover with equal parts water to the quantity of apples. For example, if you have 1kg of apples, add 1 litre of water.
  2. Next, chop the lemon. Quarters will do. Add it to the pan along with the cloves and any other spices you’re adding. Cover and bring the whole lot to the boil. Simmer until the fruit is soft, the longer and slower the better. It’ll take around 45 minutes.
  3. Strain the mixture through a colander lined with a muslin cloth. Gently press the mixture to allow the juices to run out, but don’t allow any fibres to come through the cloth. If you do, you’ll end up with cloudy jelly. Leave to strain for a few hours, or ideally overnight.
  4. Measure how much liquid you have. For every litre you’re going to add 500g of sugar. In a clean pan bring the strained liquid to a boil. As the temperature increases, add the sugar a third at a time. Stir to make sure it’s dissolved fully before adding the next batch.
  5. Boil, rapidly, for around 10 minutes or until the setting point has been reached. Do the wrinkle test to check the consistency (see note above). Take off the heat and allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes. Then either pour or ladle into prepared, clean jars. Seal immediately and allow to cool and set before tucking in.

Crab apple jelly makes a great gift for someone over the winter season. It should keep, unopened, for around a year. I’d love you to check out some of our other seasonal recipes for inspiration for what to cook for tea or simple ways to preserve the fruits and flavours of the hedgerow throughout the year.

Jack Miles
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