Crabapples, that is.
I was fortunate in my travels to Ontario to visit my in-laws neighbouring farm in White Lake, Ontairo about 45 minutes outside Ottawa. The Brearley farm provides incredible produce for the renowed Castlegarth Restaurant restaurant, just down the street from the farm. Looking at their menu is inspiring and proof that eating locally can be both delicious and gourmet. Mr. Uncanny, our toddler and I really enjoyed a tour of the gardens and were amazed at the variety of heirloom tomatoes that we enjoyed sampling as we toured the various gardens and polytunnel. While our daughter enjoyed chasing the chickens around the sprawling farm, I couldn’t take my eyes off their gorgeous, full and healthy crabapple trees that graces their front lawn.
Clearly seeing the longing in my eyes, they offered up their trees and let me go to town picking and before long, I had 7 lbs of crabs to take as carry-on back to Sackville.
Recognizing this gift and wanting to make something extra special, I made this:
It’s really just a basic crabapple jelly recipe, with a couple of star anise thrown in the stewing process to liven up the flavours and add that licorice intrigue that matches well with poultry/game meat as it would used as a glaze over a fruit tart. It’s subtle, so if you like it spicier, feel free to add more. Here’s how I did it:
Crabapple Star Anise Jelly
Yields: 3×250 mL jars
7 cups washed, stemmed and quartered crabapples
3 cups water
2 whole star anise
2 1/4 cups sugar
1. Combine water, crabapples and star anise and bring to a slow boil until crabapples are softened. With a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, mash to help it break down further.
2. Pour into a dampened jelly bag and suspend over a large bowl and let it rest overnight. I like to rest a fine mesh strainer in a large pot, underneath my suspended jelly bag. That way, in case it falls, it’ll fall into the strainer and not into your pot of juice (a heavy bag of pulp splashing in a bowl of bright red juice wouldn’t be pretty).
3. Measure your juice – it should measure around 3 cups. Add water to bring it up to 3 cups, if necessary.
4. Pour juice in a clean preserving pan/pot and pour in sugar. Bring to a full boil, checking your setting point after about 5 minutes and keep boiling under jelly has set. Pour into clean, sterilized jars with a 1/4 inch headspace and process for 10 minutes. Voila!