Historic Recipe: Crab Apple Jelly (1938)

Source: Home Management; A Comprehensive Guide-book to the Management of the Household, containing authorative contributions by Experts, compiled and edited by Margaret Garth and Mrs Stanley Wrench (1938)

The cloudy apple jelly escapade has been frustrating me all week (no, I don’t know why either). So this weekend I felt the need to prove to myself that I could in fact make clear jelly. Clear, pretty coloured jelly.

There are two crab apple tree laden with fruit outside my office window so I seized the opportunity, picked a bagful and returned to Home Management for instruction.

Make in the same way as apple jelly, but do not cut up the apples, put them in the preserving-pan whole just as they are. Do not on any account let them get mashed or the jelly will be too acid.

So, as instructed  I did much as I had last week, except that I took my straining rather more seriously. Towards the end of cooking, contrary to the recipe, the crab apples definitely got a bit mushy, but despite the dire warnings this didn’t seem to have any adverse effects.

This timdsc_1199e I doubled the muslin and created a much steadier contraption for straining by tying it between two chairs, it may have looked a bit Heath Robinson, but it worked and the jelly turned out pretty damn well – it looked good and it tasted good. The only downside was that it was bit too runny

Suggested alterations: Something tangy would probably improve the jelly, maybe a mix of rowan berries with the crab apples or something citrusy. My father reliably informs me that the way to solve the runniness (is that even a word? If it is, is it one I want to use?) is to use a half apple juice/half water solution to cook the apples in as it provides the extra pectase which is absent from crab apples and will help the jelly set. So there you go.

Final verdict: Look at it, it’s beautiful. I am smug


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