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Monday, August 28, 2017

How to Make and Can Crab Apple Jelly - A Step by Step Guide

I'm reposting this recipe from last year around this time, as it's that time of year for cooking up and canning crabapples!

I've been helping my mom make crabapple jelly for as long as I can remember. We used to have a big tree in our backyard and every year we'd pick a whole bunch of them and make tons of jelly, some of which was gifted to friends and family throughout the year.

Crabapple jelly is one of the easiest jellies to make, and the colour - depending on your apples - is absolutely stunning! But like all jelly-making and canning, it's just a bit time-consuming.  However, I'm going to show you how I do it (with pictures) as quick and easy as possible!

Also, if you're in the canning mood, you  might want to check out my tut on how to make dill pickle cucumbers, it's another canning recipe I've been doing since a little girl!

It's been a few years since I had access to crabapples, but a couple of years back we moved near my in-laws, and they have an enormous tree. This year they've ripened early, so I was able to pick and can a couple of weeks back. I've finally got the photos ready, so I thought I'd put together a little pictorial so that you, too, can get gorgeous crabapple jelly. 

Ingredients you'll need:

Ripe crabapples (the amount is up to you!)
Optional add-ins: cinnamon sticks, fresh grated ginger

White sugar (3/4 cup sugar to each 1 cup crabapple juice)
Powdered pectin (some recipes will say you don't need to add pectin. In my experience it's unpredictable and I hate having to re-make jelly that doesn't set, so I use pectin every time. The last time I didn't use it, I had to re-make 25 jars of jelly. A big fat waste of time)


Cheesecloth, flour sack towels, jelly strainer, or pillowcases to strain crabapples
A large pot (or two) to cook apples in
Jars and lids
Boiling water canner with canning rack
Canning kit (optional, but very helpful!)

Crabapple Jelly Recipe

Wash apples - fill a sink full of water, add a cup or so of white vinegar , and swish apples, then rinse and strain

Remove stems and slice off bottoms. Half or quarter apples (depending on their size). Don't bother coring them. That would take forever. 

This step will be time-consuming. Put on an episode of your favourite show, or - if you have dozens of cups - watch a movie while doing this!

In a large pot, add water just to cover apples. Add optional grated ginger here. Bring to a boil, and simmer approx 5-10 min, until apples are soft. Mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon.

See? Pulpy mash. I had so many apples I used two large pots.

Strain mash for a few hours, or overnight (I do all my canning in the evening in summer and strain overnight because it's waaay too hot to stand over the stove in the daytime!)

You could use a jelly strainer for small amounts. If you don't have a jelly strainer you could use cheesecloth or cotton muslin. I make dozens of jars, so I need industrial sized strainers - clean cotton pillowcases :) I line a large pot or bowl with a pillowcase, and ladle apple mash into it.

Some people hang the bag from a cupboard, or bathtub faucet. I use the back of my dining room chairs since I don't have cupboard knobs. Of course, keep a large pot or bowl beneath the bag. 

Some people will also advise against squeezing the bag, as this can create a cloudier jelly. However, you get at least twice as much liquid if you squeeze the bag. Think of it like milking a cow... And honestly, the jelly is still gorgeous! 

One of these glasses consists of non-squeezed liquid while one of them has been "milked". Can you guess which is which? 

Squeezed or not, the end result really isn't all that cloudy, and looks pretty delicious to me!! 

Now is the time to sterilize your canning jars. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and arrange on an ovenproof dish. Preheat oven to 160-180C / 320-350F.  Put jars and lids in oven for 15 minutes.

Here you'll add your sugar, juice, and pectin, and optional cinnamon sticks if using. Follow the directions on the pectin box for crabapple jelly. (Boil juice with pectin, add sugar, boil another minute, skim the top - remove cinnamon sticks now if using) I use a ration of 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup crabapple juice. 

I like to use a clean funnel to lade the juice into jars, to avoid contamination and messes.

Cover jars with hot, sterilized lids (carefully, using your magnetic tool from your canning kit)

To seal jars, bring water to a boil in a boiling water canner. Add jars, and boil 15 minutes. Remove using your canning kit tool, or very carefully with oven mits.

Wait  for the delightful popping sound of your jars sealing :)

Wondering what amounts to expect?

I don't always keep track, so I don't have a perfect ratio, but measured everything this time around and here's what I got:

40 cups of fresh crabapples made
21 cups of juice, which turned into
24 jars of jelly
(12 of which were 250mL/8oz jars, and 12 were 500mL/816oz)

Wondering you can do with your gorgeous jelly, other than putting it on toast? 

Why not try these?

Gluten Free Chocolate-Dipped Thumbprint Cookies, made with crabapple jelly

Vegan Meatballs in Crabapple Sauce (made with crabapple jelly)


Looking for more canning recipes?
Check out my Grandma's Dill Pickle Cucumbers!

Have you seen my latest novel, The Draughtsman's Daughter? Check it out, and be transported into an action-packed, tomb-raider mystery romance set in Ancient Egypt's Land of the Dead.


  1. Currently juicing my crab apples. I used pressure cooker. Worked like a charm.

    1. That's great! Did you freeze them overwinter? Here in the Pacific Northwest it's still waaay too early to even think of ripe crabapples!

  2. This is SO helpful, I've been trying to find a recipe that walks me through from start to finish because I have about 30 lbs of crab apples in my fridge right now and I'm so eager to get them going!! Thanks so much for sharing this!!

    1. You're welcome, and that's a whole lotta crab apples! I hope it all works out for you :)

  3. Do you strain the apples again after simmering or mash with the apples in the water?

    1. I only strain once. If you look at the picture of the apples bobbing in a big pot of water, it says above "In a large pot, add water just to cover apples. Add optional grated ginger here. Bring to a boil, and simmer approx 5-10 min, until apples are soft. Mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon." The next step below that is to strain them for several hours (you'll see my bags of mashing hanging off the chairs). The juice you get from that is what you use to make the jelly. The remaining pulp gets composted :)

  4. Merci for recipes. I will be trying them.


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