How to make Crab Apple Jelly

October 4, 2019
how to make crab apple jelly

Find out how to make crab apple jelly using crab apples found in the wild. It is a delicious with roast pork or just on its own with bread.

Wild crab apple trees can often be found hidden in hedgerows. In the spring you will noticed the gorgeous blooms of pinky-white blossom. By late summer and early Autumn these have become fruit.

Smaller and more bitter than a regular apple, crab apples are often overlooked. They are great for cooking with and make a delicious jelly which will brighten up your Autumn. You can also make wine or cider with them or roast them to serve with meat.

Read more: How to make apple chutney

We have a number of crab apple trees that grow in the fields near us. Recently they have been building houses on the fields but luckily some of the crab apple trees are still there and we were able to gather lots of apples to make the jelly.

How do you tell the difference between apples and crab apples?

The main difference between apples and crab apples is their size. Crab apples tend to be less than 2 inches whilst apples are much bigger.

Crab apples in a bowl

The crab apple tree can become gnarled and twisted which gives the tree a crab like appearance which its name might come from.I prefer to think its because the fruit is so small it can make you crabby if you have to peel loads. The fruit is also quite tart so the name might also be due to the taste.

Crab apples and folklore

In folklore the crab apple tree is often referred to as the Tree of Love. There are many rituals associated with it. One of these is to throw the apple pips into the fire whilst saying the name of your true love. If the pip explodes the love is true.

How to make crab apple jelly

Crab apple jelly is really easy to make. If you haven’t made jelly before this is a good recipe to start with as very little can go wrong.



Crab apple jelly in a jar outside with crab apples beside it


Cut any bad bits out of the apples and put them into a pan of water. The water should just cover the apples. You can leave the stalks but remove any leaves.

Bring to a boil and simmer until the apples are soft and broken up. This will take about thirty five to forty minutes. Let the pulp cool and pour into a jelly bag. Leave overnight until the juice stops dripping.

Crab apple jelly dripping through jelly bag

You should be left with a clear juice. Add this to a pan with sugar and the juice of one lemon. Bring to the boil and simmer until it reaches 105.5 C or the jelly sets when put on the back of a spoon.

Crab apple juice in a bowl
Crab apple juice with sugar and lemon simmering in a pan

You can vary the recipe to suit the amount of crab apples you have. Once you have strained them through the jelly bag you need 70g sugar for each 100g juice.

How to make crab apple jelly - pictures showing the steps

Crab apple jelly recipe

Crab apple jelly in a jar outside with crab apples beside it

Crab Apple Jelly

Crab apple jelly is a delicious golden jelly which is perfect for serving with a roast dinner or on its own with bread. It is really simple to make.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine British
Servings 4 jars


  • sterilized jam jars
  • Preserving pan or large pan
  • Sharp knife
  • Measuring Jug
  • Bowl
  • Jelly bag
  • Jam funnel


  • 4 kg crab apples
  • 1 kg white sugar
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • Enough water to cover the apples


  • Wash the apples and cut out any bruises
  • Add the apples to the preserving pan and cover with water. There should be enough water to just cover the apples
  • Bring the water to the boil and simmer until the fruit is soft. This will take about thirty to forty minutes.
  • Pour the resulting pulp into a jelly bag and leave to drip overnight until no more liquid comes out.
  • Measure the amount of juice you have using a measuring jug and add to a pan
  • Add sugar to the pan in the ratio 10 parts juice to seven parts sugar ie for each 100g of juice you need 70g of sugar.
  • Add the lemon juice.
  • Bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar and keep at a simmer for thirty five to forty minutes until setting point is reached. The froth needs to be skimmed off as it builds up.
  • To check the setting point use a sugar thermometer. It needs to reach 105.5C. You can also test by putting some of the jelly on a spoon and if it solidifies it is ready.
  • Prepare the jam jars by washing them and then pouring boiling water into them. Pop into the oven at 160 C for around 15 minutes. Don't pour the jelly into a cold jar.
  • Place the jam funnel over the jar and pour the jelly into each jar until full
  • Seal whilst warm.


Don’t poke the jelly bag whilst the jelly is dripping or your jelly will become cloudy.
You can modify the recipe and add a few chillis, a cinnamon stick or coriander seeds into the pan whilst the apples are cooking.
It also works well with the addition of rosehips with the apples
Keyword preserve

What does  crab apple jelly go with?

Crab apple jelly is the perfect accompaniment to roast pork. It is also lovely with sandwiches or on bread or toast on its own.

Why is my jelly cloudy?

This is usually because you have poked the jelly bag while it was dripping and some of the pulp has come through. Just let it drip.

Which sugar should I use?

Crab apples are high in pectin so it should set really easily. You can use granulated or caster sugar.

How long does it last?

Usually not very long as it is so tasty it gets eaten quickly. If the jar has been sterilised properly the crab apple jelly can last a couple of years in a cool dark place. Once the jar is open use it within three months.

Have you ever made crab apple jelly? Let me know below

Why not pin for later?

How to make crab apple jelly - a delicious jelly which is perfect with a roast dinner. Its really easy to make - get the recipe

You might also like to learn how to make raspberry jam

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6 responses to “How to make Crab Apple Jelly”

  1. Galina V says:

    5 stars
    What a beautiful jelly, Alison! I now want some too. I know a place nearby with wild crab apples, just need to have a dry day and pick some to make the jelly.

  2. jacqui says:

    Ive never made crab apple jelly but I do love regular apple jelly so I am sure I would like it. I just need to source the location of a crab apple tree.

  3. 5 stars
    I have to admit I’ve never made anything using these apples. Your recipe sounds delicious, so if I ever come across these apples I might give it a go. Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare

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