last updated on : 01.16.2009 - Select Items Listed Your Satisfaction And Value Guaranteed
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Copyright:  Mike Sillett


1. Intro
2. Materials
3. Kitchen Equipment
4. Procedure

photo of approximately two and a half pounds of Wild Red Crabapples

1. Intro

Making preserves, jams and jellies from wild fruit, such as wild Red Crabapples in this tutorial, is a fun activity. Kids love it.
Foraging wild edibles by itself is one fun aspect. Doing it with family and/or friends, whether in the field or forest, or in the kitchen for final preparation, adds to that enjoyment.

Finally, getting something for nothing appeals to almost everyone and knowing that makes the product you preserved even more satisfying.

You should read the entire tutorial and review the photos to get a good idea of what is involved and how to begin.

Making jelly is more time consuming than it is difficult so set aside a bit of time and don't rush it.

Red Crabapples are 'in abundance' in my area, southwestern Pennsylvania, around the end of September. Plenty of free jelly making essentials out in the suburbs. All you need is a bag or basket.

2. Materials

About five pounds of wild Red Crabapples. Put them in a bowl of fresh water and wash them briefly.
Approximately 3 cups of sugar.
( It's approximate because it all depends upon how much juice you end up with after straining, how tart the apples are and individual preference ).

photo showing about five pounds of freshly picked Red Crabapples

About 5 pounds of fresh picked Wild Red Crabapples.
More than what is needed for a recipe calling for three pounds.

3. Kitchen Equipment

A couple of large bowls,
A couple of large non-reactive pots, preferably stainless or glass
About a dozen half-pint canning jars with rings and lids,
Couple of wooden stirring spoons or spatulas,
A few teaspoons for doing the spoon 'jell' test,
A mash potato masher,
Muslin bag ( or a piece of sheet or small pillowcase ),
Colander/strainer, preferably one with very small holes.
Measuring cup


Take the crabapples from the wash water bowl leaving the water behind and put them in a pot of fresh HOT water.
Let the water get good and hot but NOT boiling.
You can see in the photo the water is hot with the vapors rising. Stir it with the spatular. The agitation will help to clean the apples some more.

hot washing quickly prior to sorting good from bad.

A quick 'Hot' washing prior to sorting.

After a few minutes of mixing and agitation start to segregate the real nice looking, unblemished ones and throw out the ones that don't look appealing. You do want a few that are a bit unripe but not too many. Crabapples are naturally high in pectin content anyway.

This is the last time consuming part and yet it only will take about 10 minutes, if you are real picky - like I am.

Don't worry about stems, seeds, skin or other detritus. The strainer and muslin will take care of all that.

When you think you have sorted enough weigh them. You want to have about 2 pounds 12 ounces.( see the heading photo above)

Sorting out the good apples

Sorting out the good apples from the 'Hot' wash.

After you get the correct amount of apples weighed out put them all in another pot ( stainless or glass ) of fresh water, just enough water to barely cover the apples.

It should look something like the picture below.

simmering all three pounds of sorted crabapples in another batch of fresh water.

All the apples added to a new pot of water.

Bring the water up to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.

Let the apples simmer, just below boiling, until they look like they will mash up good. Don't rush it.

showing fully simmered crabapples almost ready to mash up.

A batch of simmered crabapples almost ready to mash.

Use the potato masher while the apples are still simmering in the pot. Mash as good as you can. The better you mash them the easier the juice will be liberated.

This is the stage you want to get to. When you think you have them mashed as good as humanly possible - let them simmer a few more minutes and then mash them some more.

showing crabapples all mashed up ready for straining

A batch of crabapples all mashed up and ready for straining.

Now that the apples are all mashed up use the fine meshed kitchen strainer/colander to do the initial work of getting rid of all the bigger pieces such as stems, seeds, and other odd bits.

After the colander part is done let the juice filter through the muslin bag or a clean piece of sheet or pillowcase.
The sheet piece or pillowcase should be wetted and wrung out before use. It strains better, that is, filters more effectively when wet.

showing the strained juices being collected in a larger container

Fresh crabapple juice, strained through muslin and ready for the pot.

This is the juice ready for making the jelly. When you have it all gathered get out the measuring cup.

For each cup of juice you will need approximately 2/3 cup of sugar.( it's approximate because it will depend on the tartness of the apples and individual taste preferences. )

Once all measured add the juice back to the cleaned out stainless steel pot, add the required amount of sugar and simmer on medium heat.

Simmer and stir.
Simmer and stir.
Simmer and stir.

showing slow boil to thicken up juice in preparation to 'jelling'

A pot of crabapple juice almost at the 'jell' point.

Eventually it will get to the point that it starts to jell.

When you see that it is getting thicker and thicker it's time to start doing the spoon test every few minutes.

Use the spatula to put a bit of the juice on a spoon. Move the spoon away from the heat then tilt the spoon back and forth ever so slowly to see if the juice is starting to leave little ripples of jell.

You DO NOT want to use a hot spoon each time you sample the juice for jell testing. You want a cold spoon, or at least room temperature.

showing the spoon 'jell' test using the spoon method.

Here is the spoon test.
Keep checking the juice on the spoon until it appears to want to leave ripples when tilted back and forth.

When you finally believe that the juice is ready to jell, put some juice on the spoon, let it run off so there is just a layer all over the spoon and set the spoon aside.

Watch the juice on the spoon, it will puddle in the depression. When the puddle starts to jell reasonably quick,the juice is ready to be put in the jars.

There's also a jell test you can do using alcohol.

Fill HOT jars to within 1/4 inch of top, screw on lids and caps - handtight and set away from the stove and wait for the pops.

showing the finished product - 10 half-pints

Ten jars of half-pints from the batch of crabapples.

Here is the finished product with label applied.

a jar of silysavg's Wild Red Crabapple Jelly

Here is a finished jar of silysavg's Wild Red Crabapple jelly.

Wild Red Crabapple Jelly

I sell Red Crabapples in 5 pound lots during the season.
That would be near mid September to October. Click naturespickings or on that link from other pages on my site to check on availability.

Feel free to copy the information for your own use.

If you refer to these contents on your website I would appreciate that you link:

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Even a dollar would be helpful.

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