Much of our area is old farm land where apple trees were planted more for the family’s use than as a cash crop. Many of the trails I frequent still have old apple trees growing alongside them. They tend to be small and spotted, but still quite delicious for sauce and pies.
Crabapples: the Necessary Ingredient
Crabapple is abundant, too. These are especially wonderful for jelly since they are so high in pectin. They make good cider and vinegar as well. Mix them with other foraged fruits for hedgerow jelly, and as long as crabapples make up half the recipe, no added pectin will be needed.
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Apples, all of which are Malus species, bloom in the spring with five petaled pink or white flowers. Both apples and crabapples are harvested in the fall.
To be sure a fruit is an apple, cut it in half mid-section (not top to bottom). By doing this you will be cutting the seed chambers in half. If there are five seeds which form a star, you have an apple.
The main difference between an apple and a crabapple? The size. Any Malus that is over 2″ in diameter is an apple. Under 2″ and it’s a crabapple. In addition, crabapples are generally much more tart than a regular apple.
Other Ingredients in Hedgerow Jelly
Hedgerow jelly can use any of the abundant fruits that are available to forage along the edges of fields or forest.
So use your imagination when making hedgerow jelly. You can use blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, rose hips, elderberry, hawthorn, or even autumn olive. Just be sure that half of your recipe is crabapple or you may need to add pectin.
More Than Weeds
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- 4 cups crabapples
- 4 cups any combination of blackberries rose hips, elderberries, or autumn olive berries (or other foraged fruits)
- 2 cups organic cane sugar approximately
- Wash the fruit and remove stems. Cut each crabapple in half to be sure there is no rot or worms. Place the crabapples and other hedgerow berries in a large pot and cover with filtered water. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the fruit is soft.
- Strain into a jelly bag. Squeezing the bag will produce more juice, but will also cloud the jelly. (I’m ok with that). Add ½ cup of organic sugar for every cup of juice produced. Boil over high heat until gelling point is reached.
- To test, place a spoonful of jelly on a plate and let cool for a minute in the refrigerator. Then run your finger through the jelly. If it remains separated on the plate, your jelly is done.
- Pour the jelly into hot, sterile 8 ounce canning jars leaving 1/2” space at the top. The jelly may be processed in a water bath canner for 10 minutes, although I generally just freeze it.
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