If you’ve ever plucked a crabapple off a tree and taken a bite, you know the bitter pulp in your mouth was nearly inedible. However, all is not lost with this fruit, as it makes a tasty jam once it’s processed with sugar or honey. Other fruits added to crabapples can alter the flavor and offer an alternate to the plain version. The jam is an appropriate complement to holiday meals, and crabapple jam-filled jars can be dressed up with ribbon and a label for easy gifts.
Plain Crabapple Jam
A plain crabapple jam can be made from just crabapples, water, lemon juice, and sugar or honey. It can be prepared as a freezer jam, which means it can be placed in a container in the freezer or kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. It, and all other types of crabapple jams, can be prepared and canned in a canning pot, with sterilized jars and lids or put in the freezer as freezer jam. A standard recipe would include: 5 quarts of crabapples (washed, peeled, cored and cut), 2½ cups of water, ¼ cup lemon juice and 1 1/3 cups sugar (or honey).
Cook the crabapples on a medium heat, in the water, for about 20 minutes or until tender. Strain the apples, but reserve the cooking liquid. Press the apples through a strainer or sieve. Pour the juice and crabapple pulp back into the pot. Add the sugar, lemon juice and the retained liquid. Add more sugar if you like a sweeter jam. Stir constantly, while you bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-high heat. Boil for about one minute. Pour the jam into containers for freezer jam or can it in a traditional manner (see Resources).
Prepare the plain version of crabapple jam, but replace the water with cranberry-apple juice or plain cranberry juice. The added juice creates a red mixture, appropriate for holiday use and giving.
Replace a cup of crabapples called for in the plain recipe with the seeds of one large pomegranate. This is another excellent holiday version, as you can actually see the berries from the outside of the jar.
While cooking the plain crabapple jam, add a stick of cinnamon. If this is not available, replace it with 1 tspb ground cinnamon. The addition of 1 tsp vanilla, either with the cinnamon or in place of it, is a flavor liked by many.
Replace half the crabapples in the plain recipe with peaches, apricots, pineapple or berries and process the jam as instructed in the plain crabapple recipe.