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Apple Jelly

Crabapple Jelly

This stunningly beautiful transparent crabapple jelly is made without pectin. Perfect accompaniment to toast, biscuits, and scones.
Course Jelly
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword crabapple jelly, jelly
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen


  • 4 lbs crabapples
  • 7 cups water
  • Granulated sugar (see Method below for amount of sugar required)
  • 3-4 tbsp strained fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp butter


  1. Wash and remove stem and blossom ends from apples. Leave apples whole. Place in large stock pot. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 40-45 minutes or until apples have softened and begun to break down into mush. Gently mash any large chunks of apple with a potato masher.
  2. Place a double weight of dampened cheesecloth in a large colander (use triple weight if cheesecloth is very loose weave). Place the colander over a large clean pot or bowl. Pour the apple pulp into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Let mixture drip for about 20 minutes or so to get some of the initial juice out of the pulp. Gather up ends of cheesecloth and tie tightly with an all-purpose kitchen twine, making a loop by which to hang the jelly bag to allow the juice to drip out. Alternatively, if you have one, use a jelly bag with its own stand for this process.

  3. The jelly bag with the apple pulp will be heavy so, if you don't have a jelly bag and stand unit, something strong from which to suspend the jelly bag to drip will be needed. A suggestion would be to hang the jelly bag on a broom handle and support the broom between two chairs. Place a large pot or bowl under the jelly bag to catch the juice as it drips. Allow this to drip on its own for several hours (i.e., at least 3-4 hours) or overnight, until no more juice is seen dripping through. Resist the urge to squeeze the jelly bag to hasten the juice flow, or extract more juice, as this can cause some of the apple pulp to escape the bag resulting in a cloudy juice and jelly.

  4. When it is determined the juice has fully been extracted, prepare the jars and lids by washing them in hot soapy water. Rinse. Fill a large pot with hot tap water, about ¾ full.  Place 6 half-pint jars and 1 quarter pint jar, upright, into the water.  Ensure the jars are fully submerged, each jar filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the tallest jars.  Cover, bring to a boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water to have ready to fill once the jelly finishes cooking. 

  5. Place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in the freezer.  These will be needed to test the jelly for “jell” status.

  6. When jelly bag is done dripping, discard bag and apple pulp.  To determine the amount of sugar needed, measure out the extracted juice and, for each cup of juice, measure out ¾ cup of sugar. Pour juice into pot. Add the lemon juice and sugar to the extracted apple juice. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add 1 tsp butter to reduce foaming.  Over medium-high heat, bring mixture to a rolling boil and continue to boil, uncovered, at this temperature for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, then test for status of jelling.

  7. As soon as the jelly is on the stove, fill the canner about half full of hot tap water. Cover and bring water to a boil to have it ready for processing of the filled jars. As the jelly is just about done, it’s a good idea to boil a kettle of extra water to have ready, if needed, to top up the canner water after filled jars are added.

  8. To test for jelling, remove one of the saucers from the freezer and place a couple of teaspoons of the jelly on it. Place the jelly in the freezer for one minute. Remove saucer with jelly from the freezer and push the jelly gently with a finger. If the jelly wrinkles, it is done. If it doesn’t wrinkle, keep cooking the jelly, testing every 4-5 minutes until it is done. Do not overcook. Remove jelly stockpot from the stove while conducting the tests.

  9. Skim off any foam that may still remain on top of the jelly.

  10. Use jar lifter tongs to carefully remove the hot sterilized jars from the water, one at a time, emptying the water from the jars back into the pot. Drain jars well.

  11. Remove a small amount of the hot water from the stockpot in which the jars were sterilized and place in small saucepan over simmering heat. Place the lids in the hot water to soften the rubber sealing compound. Do not boil the lids.

  12. Using a ladle, or a heat-proof glass measuring cup, and a wide-mouthed canning funnel, pour jelly into the hot sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar to allow for expansion during the hot water processing. Remove any trapped air bubbles in the jars with a chopstick or small heatproof, non-metallic spatula. Wipe the jar rims with a clean damp cloth to remove any stickiness that could prevent the lids from sealing properly to the jars.

  13. Using a magnetic lid lifter, remove lids from the hot water and center the heated lids on jars so the sealing compound on the lid edges aligns with the jar rims. Fingertip tighten the ring/screw bands until resistance is encountered. Do not over-tighten.

  14. Using jar lifter tongs, carefully place filled jars upright in wire basket positioned in the canner, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. If needed, add the extra hot empty jar, upright, to the basket to fill up space so the filled jars do not topple over.  Let the empty jar fill with water from the canner as it is submerged. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Return the water to a full rolling boil over high heat then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a moderately rolling boil but not boiling over. Process jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time as and if necessary for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point at which a full rolling boil is reached after jars have been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid.

  15. Let jars sit in the hot water for 5 minutes then, using jar lifter tongs, carefully remove the jars filled with jelly, upright and one at a time, and transfer them to a heat-proof cutting board, that has been covered with a towel, to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on counter for 24 hours.Then, test each jar for proper sealing by pressing down on the center of each jar lid. If the lid is already pressed downward, and does not pop back up, it is properly sealed. Any jars that do not pass this test should be refrigerated and the jelly used within a week or so. Store properly sealed jelly bottles in cool, dark place. Refrigerate jelly once jar has been opened.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 5½ - 6 cups