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The Nursery Crab Apple Jelly

In his first Journal article, Chris Archambault our Head of Food, writes about the joy & simplicity of creating a crab apple jelly from the kitchen garden's trees.

[The crab apply jelly was harvested from the Malus John Downie tree located at the top of the Kitchen Garden].

The tenuous link becomes more apparent between the wild crab apple and the Rosaceae family once you work these diminutive wonders down into a jelly. That’s when their rouge hue is truly released. Reminiscent of little rosy cheeked cherubs, this rock hard fruit packs an eye-watering tang that only releases it’s subtle fragrance with a time consuming coax.

It’s simple really. Harvest and wash well, discarding the stems. Cut the apples in half and add to a heavy-bottomed saucepan, with water to cover. 300gm sugar to every 1.5kg of apples and the zest and juice of one small lemon. Bring to a boil and simmer for around 45 minutes, or until the apples have become softened and pulpy. Drain overnight through muslin, without disturbing, or use a pricey and cheffy chinois which will do the job in minutes. The resulting liquid now needs a rapid reduce over high heat until it becomes an iridescent, bubbling mass. Until you get a feel for it; test a few spoonfuls as you go in a small cup, refrigerating to see if you’re at the ‘set’ stage. The natural pectin, with a little help from the sugar, gives you the inevitable ‘jelly’ texture you seek. Sterilize in jars, or it will keep well chilled for a month or so if you’re careful not to contaminate with greedy fingers.

Similar to the classic quince paste- ‘membrillo’; crab apple jelly packs a bigger tang and goes equally, if not better, with like pairings. Hard and semi-soft cheeses, melted into rich gravies for game meats or even spread on thick, hot buttered toast.

As a chef, what could be more satisfying than to pick a fruit mere yards from my kitchen door and work it into something beautiful, delicious and flexible for all manner of preparations. Another Duchy Nursery triumph, made with love for our guests.