What to do with your crab apples: recipe for crab apple, orange & cider jelly


1.3kg tart cooking apples (mixed 1part Bramley apples with 2 part crab apple)

4 oranges

8 whole cloves

2 660ml bottles of medium sweet cider

water – see below

preserving sugar – see below


  • Wash and chop the apples.  Scrub oranges under hot water to remove wax then chop.  Add both to a preserving pan (or large heavy based saucepan) with the cloves, cider and enough water to barely cover the fruit.
  • Bring to the boil and cover and simmer gently for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Pour the fruit and juices into a sterilized jelly bag suspended over a large bowl.
  • Leave to drain for at least 4 hours or overnight until the juices stop dripping.
  • Measure the juice into a cleaned preserving pan.  Add 450g sugar for every 600ml of juice.
  • Heat mixture gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until the setting point is reaches.  Remove from heat.
  • Skim any scum off the surface and pour the jelly into warmed sterilised jars.  Add the lid and seal.
  • Store in a cool dark place for at least 3 months- the longer it is stored the more developed the flavour.  Will store unopened for 2 years.  Once opened, store in the refrigerator.


  • Just to ensure set (alcohol can affect this) I substituted 100ml of pectin liquid (made from lemons) for water.   You could use crab apples that you know have high pectin to make the liquid.
  • Or you can use mix (2 parts/1part) of preserving/jam sugar or granulated/ jam sugar.
  • Makes about 12 small hex jars.
  • It is worth buying a good quality cider as it will affect the flavour.

WEN Christmas Jelly Marmalade

This is a NEW recipe, ideal for Xmas and sold really well at the recent St James craft fair.


1.5kg crab apples, quartered and sliced
2 large oranges finely sliced
12 cloves
½ stick cinnamon
2 star anise
2 inches fresh ginger, scraped and thinly sliced
Sugar – use 400g for every 500ml of strained liquid
1 tblsp orange Liqueur. (optional)

Prepare the apples and oranges. There is no need to peel or core them, include all.
Place the spices and ginger in a heavy based pan, add the prepared fruit on top and then add enough water to cover.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently, covered, for about 45-60 minutes so all the fruit has softened and become pulpy. Avoid unnecessarily stirring or mashing the fruit as it could make the liquid cloudy. If necessary press gently with the back of a large spoon.

Strain in a jelly bag or through a J cloth, preferably overnight. Do not press or squeeze the bag or the jelly will become cloudy.

Measure the liquid and return to a clean pan. Measure the sugar as per the ratio above and add to the warmed liquid. Gently stir until completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil, uncovered, and continue till setting point is reached, usually under 10 minutes. (See ‘how to make the perfect jam’ for instructions on testing setting point)

Skim off any scum. Pour into warmed sterilised jars and cover. Label when cold. Keeps for 12 months in a cool dark place. Once opened store in a refrigerator.

1. You can substitute cooking apples for crab apples or use a mix of crab and cooking apples.
2. Clementines or tangerines can be an alternative for the oranges.
3. To use a J cloth to strain the liquid, drape over a large colander over a basin. When most of the immediate liquid has run
through, you can tie the four corners together and hang from a hook on a cupboard door handle and let to drip over night.
Take care when tying the corners to gently ease the J cloth into shape without disturbing the pulp too much.
4. Jelly bags are available from cook shops or on line.