During a bike trip with Huxley last year we came across a small public park in a nook of town where I didn't expect there to be one. At the edge of the park where two trees heavily hung with what I thought where plums. I didn't have a chance to excamine them at the time as I had a very tired, sad little boy on my hands. I did however, mark the spot in my memory with the intention of returning this year to harvest some of this "wild" fruit.
So this year, I drove by to check out how the plums where doing, just to realize that it wasn't a bumper crop of plums that was ready for the picking, but a wonderful variety of crab apples, yet just at the end of their prime. A couple of days later Huxley and I took a small step ladder and went harvesting/foraging.
I will have to make a note in my calendar to start checking on the fruit earlier next year, as it was really just the very end of the season, with the majority already having enterend the next stage of their purpose – to go soft so that they could distribute their seeds.
We still managed to gather about 4 kg.
After triming off the bad bits and using the really bad ones for tossing practice into the corner of our yard (which was a lot of fun for my 8 year old). I ended up with a large pot of usable fruit.
I washed the fruit and returned it to the pot, covering the fruit with just enough water to have it bop a bit.
I gently boiled the fruit until it was mushy.
Transferring the fruit to a large cheesecloth, I hung it over a broomstick to drain all the juices overnight into a large bowl. (look at that lovely colour).
I measured the resulting fruit juice and oogled its amazing colour. I used about 75% of sugar to the amount of juice and boiled it in a pot until it reached just about 220 degrees fahrenheit. Filled it into steriliesed canning jars and voila! My first ever crab-apple jelly.
Note: I learned that it is best to make jams and jelly's in smaller batches, so I made the jelly in 3 batches of each about 1.2 liters of juice to about 800 grams of sugar. It jellied perfectly – thanks to the wonderful high-pectin content of crab apples.
The half-full jar in the middle was our immediate consumption jar. I love the slightly tangy flavour of the jelly. It is particularly yummy spread on a toasted bagel, then topped with extra old cheddar cheese.
I used some of the fruit mush to make a zucchini-crabapple bread. It tasted great and I will have to make note next time around to the exact ingredients. I started a bad habit of just trowing things together without exactly measuring them – so they are a tad hard to reproduce.
This time of the year I feel a kindred affiliation to squirrels. This year I've been able to put by Strawberry freezer jam and blueberry jam. There is frozen rhubarb and blueberries and a couple of bags of sour cherries to make swiss-type fruit quiche during the winter. I've made pickles for the first time and will be able to taste them in about a weeks time. I've also made elderberry jelly from foraged berries. Sadly when trying to make peach sauce, I ended up scorching a huge pot of them and didn't have the opportunity to purchase more peaches – lack of time. I've also dehydrated strawberries and peaches for use in nut less trail-mix for school snacks. There is a rum-topf downstairs awaiting some new fruits.
Two bushels of tomates have been turned into frozen, ready sauce, as well as some frozen slow-oven roasted tomatoes. Last saturday I picked up another two bushels of tomatoes, although as it is at the end of the harvest, they are rather sad looking and I have to pick through them to pick only the nicest ones. My freezer is full, so I will put them by as whole bottled tomatoes and as passata (passata [pəˈsɑːtə] n (Cookery) a sauce made from sieved tomatoes, often used in Italian cookery [Italian] – thanks wikipedia).