Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crab Apple Preparation for Jelly

I know, I know. I am the last person to really blog!

I don't consider canning, prepping food for the winter, and making jelly cooking.
As in the type of cooking I dislike. 
Cooking is a derivative of cook a 4 letter word just like bake is.:

Years ago I created a t-shirt. It has a mule head on it and says below:
Cook and bake
are 4 letter 
Is Not!

I picked nearly 4 gallons of crabapples from a tree near work. I had permission and every other year or ... whenever I can get to the tree, I pick crabapples for making jelly. The process itself is very labor intensive, but the beautiful pink jelly that is created is worth the effort.

First I picked. Then I picked over and removed stems while washing them.

I went over this batch pretty carefully. We'd had a bad storm the day before with high winds and some hail, I picked through and tossed the bruised apples.

I'd gone to the garden early to grab any more tomatoes and veggies I could find. The NOAA had predicted storms again for the evening hours so I wanted to make sure I got anything that might get damaged.

I had a huge amount of 'grape' tomatoes along with several romas and beefy tomatoes. Not sure what name those big tomatoes were called, but I washed and sorted out the little ones, the big ones, and the ones that were ripe...and the ones that needed to ripen.

I had Kale and Parsley bunches washed and set aside.
I decided that since I'd be spending the day in the kitchen with the crab apples, I may as well do as much as I could.

I don't like to do all of the apples at once. So I started a batch. I put about a cup and a half of water in with the little red beauties and started them. I get them to simmer until they are mushy and I can crush them with a hand held potato masher.

I looked up different ways to do this and many websites suggested a juicer, or to use a blender to chop up the apples and then squeeze out the juice.

I decided to do it the OLD fashioned way. The way my Grandmother and Mom did it. Besides, I'd always had good results doing it the way I knew best. 

It was going to be an all day project and nothing was going to change that. 
I had all day.

While the crabapples were started, I got busy and put the parsley and kale on the drying trays. I also cut up and onion and sliced grape tomatoes.

I decided to try out a dehydrator. Apparently you can dry tomatoes and the grape or cherry tomatoes were good candidates for drying. I sliced everything up and put it together.

The kale and parsely came out great. I crushed the leaves and put them in containers for soup flavorings this winter.

Now that I know it works well, I'll go out and get more. I may even visit the Farmers Market and find some more spices. 
It is fun to provide for yourself.

Meanwhile the first batch of crabapples were ready. 

The smells in the kitchen were a bit wild. Imagine, onion, kale, parsley, and an overpowering smell of tart apples!

I used Grandma's method of straining the pulp from the juice for the first batch.

Hands down, you can't get more beautiful clear juice doing this any other way. I know folks use cheesecloth, but for pure juice, this is the best.

However I had a time limit and had another batch to do, so I used method number two which also is labor intensive in a way, but allows a bit more pulp to get into the juice.

I took this shot after I'd measured out at least 2 cups. This was towards the end of the 'juicing'. 

I ended up with 7 cups of beautiful pink/red tart juice all ready for jelly making!

During my wait time for things to drain and dry, I continued to clear coat the Wainscott wood in the dining area and caught up on laundry.

Busy day, but when it was done, I marveled at the beautiful crabapple juice.

What amazes me is that people rarely plant these trees any more and most folks don't even know that you can create wonderful jellies from this fruit.

I guess it is easier to just go to the super market and buy jelly.

Well I haven't done that since...well...
forever. Once you get a taste for homemade, nothing compares.

Well. Next adventure is to hunt down some wild apple trees and perhaps get some grapes from either the Farmers Market or find someone I can trade some jelly for ... grapes.

More food prep.

1 comment:

Older and wiser said...

This reminds me of the summer my sister-in-law taught me to can tomato sauce and bread-and-butter pickles, all without electricity! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I'm sure the box of wine helped! I love your "pioneer" stories. I share your dislike for cooking, though I do love to bake.