Thursday 23 September 2010

Uffington crab

Coming home from Richard's, I took my latest favourite road, between Wantage and Swindon along the foot of the Downs. Approaching Uffington, there was a row of crab apple trees, laden with fruit. So I stopped and picked a great pile of them, because the combination of crab apples and location was pretty irresistible.

I couldn't find my jelly bag anywhere, so I popped into Kitchens, our local cooking-stuff-shop, and they had a really nice-looking strainer there, and it cost ten pounds fifty. Ten pounds fifty!.... so I got a cotton pillowcase from the charity shop next door, and washed it and used it instead.

I ended up with four and a half pints of liquid, and added sugar and mace and cloves, and boiled for ages.

I started to think that the thermometer was broken, because it went up to 100C and stayed there. But then I remembered that this is what happens when you boil liquids, and what I was watching was the result of the latent heat of vapourisation...

....that was a memorable lesson in the school physics lab, when I got a steam generator boiling furiously over a Bunsen burner and then the teacher noticed that I hadn't added a safety valve, and he evacuated the lab and then sent me back in to defuse the apparatus....

Anyway, it turned out lovely! -just had some on my breakfast toast. Apple-y and spicy.

Happy equinox!


  1. Dru, I haven't tasted crab apples since I was kid in Indiana, where they grew wild, and I've never had them made into jelly! How wonderful that must be! And you even made a label!

    Melissa XX

  2. i think I have to go back to my childhood too. My mum only ever bottled plums (yuck), but one of her friends used to raid the hedgerows and make all sorts of lovely things.

    The pillow was a great idea, if you never use it again it doesn't matter.

  3. I made c-a jelly just one year - 1985 it was, and a lifetime ago. Once again, Dru, you've gathered us all together in your kitchen with you. And I love the label.

  4. You put spice in yours? Never thought of that. Maybe I could do with making up a batch before it's too late to find apples.

    Incidentally - I'm going to have some special Kimmeridge Sloe Gin this year. No idea whether the coastal location will make much difference - but they looked huge and shiny and juicy and I couldn't resist.

  5. Used to make loads of apple jelly but sadly was introduced to the peanut butter combination which is twice as addictive as heroin and rather than loosing weight you could feel yourself expanding.

    I assumed that fancy labels for jam would be one of the first uses I would put the computer to do but sadly ten years on have never done one. The label making program hides somewhere deep in the bowels of the machine and somehow causes an increase of blood pressure every time we try to print out address labels for christmas cards. No doubt it is a three click job but once again programmers have utterly failed to make the process instinctive.

    What a rant for such a nice post!

    Caroline xxx

  6. Hey pet!

    Kerry and I went 'round the local NLR and there were loads of crab apples, so we made loads of crab apple and blackberry jelly... but it didn't gel much, I am sorry to report, it will have to go back on the stove.



  7. That sounds delicious. I've just half filled a small cupboard here with some apple, tomato & mint chutney, all from the garden. They're cox's orange, but they go so well in chutney I don't feel guilty about not using them as eaters. The tomatoes are a mix of plums, sungold and un-named large round red ones. Gorgeous stuff!
    x Graham

  8. Crabs are really good for jelly making, Melissa, because they're v high in pectin. And they taste pretty good too, when the sugar has taken the edge off the sourness...

    Funnily enough, Anji,I found my jelly bag the day after I'd made the jelly, in a drawer that I'd looked in. Must be going mad.

    Thank you, Delia! -it's nice making labels, and if I don't then I find something on the shelf and think "was that the damson pickle I made in 2007, or what?" -some things on the shelf belong in a museum by now.

    The mace and cloves really give it a nice flavour, Anne. -I don't know if the location has a huge effect on the flavour, but the end product is a good way of evoking the day I picked the fruit.

    My labelling is pretty low-tech, Caroline; scan the drawing, flood the colours in using Paint, and copy and paste a few times before printing. At least it's quicker than doing all the labels individually...

    This was the first time I'd used the thermometer, Toni, and I found it v helpful, as the usual tests for setting point are a bit hit-and-miss in my kitchen... it's a blooming nuisance when it's over- or under-done, isn't it?

    Sounds gorgeous, Graham! Someone gave me some tomatos from their allotment; they were an unusual type, all knobbly and really rich in flavour. Must have a go at that myself, except that the allotments are massively over-subscribed here...

  9. That looks good!

    I have to admit to being a hedgerow apple-taster, usually to the amusement of my companions. I've found the occasional gem, though wild horses wouldn't drag their locations from me.

  10. I don't have the stove for canning, but this makes me yearn for the days. I've got so much excess in my own garden! Ground cherries, peaches, choke cherries, apples, mulberries, not to mention the veggies. I've even got a "Nut Wizard" that scoops up tasty black walnuts and am looking to invest in a walnut press. Thanks for the inspirational photos, as always!