Sunday, April 11, 2010

Crab Apple Jelly

This morning when I awoke, still in bed, I pulled back the curtains. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning. Lying there I watched two rosellas in the broken boughed oak next door.

We got two different jars of fruit jelly two days ago. Friend Ali gave us quince jelly and Colin brought crab apple. Anne’s put a piece about the making of the quince jelly on her food blog

In the past Anne and I used to go to Colin’s Brooklyn garden to pick crab apples, it was at that stage a yearly ritual. His tree always had a prolific crop. We turned the tart fruit into jelly in our kitchen, sharing the filled jars with him in an Italian landlord/peasant type of arrangement - he owned the tree and helped us pick the fruit but we provided the labour (and the sugar) to turn it into jelly.

The process put our bath out of use for at least twenty-four hours. The fabric shop assistants used to look warily at me at first when I ask for muslin, but hearing that I want it for making jelly, they were eager to help and started talking about their mothers making jellies and jams when they were young.

The process as Anne’s blog describes is quite simple though it’s labour intensive. The resulting juice was a gorgeous pink colour. I used to boil it up again with sugar – 500g to 3 cups of juice – skimming as I went to remove any impurities. When it was ready to set I decanted it into clean, hot jars, straight from the dishwasher.

For years both households give jars to gifts to friends, but there was enough of the brilliantly crimson jelly with its slight sharp taste to eat all year. I used to put tablespoons of it in my meat casseroles to add to the flavour. I look forward to eating Colin’s and Ali’s offerings this year.

Our next door neighbours here have a tall crab-apple tree but it bears little fruit. Blackbirds have been pecking at them and when I got up this morning the rosellas were there too. Not a feast for them but a treat. For me to see them too.

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