How to Make Crab Apple Jelly

Jon and I are on vacation from work this week and decided to try our hand once again at making crab apple jelly. Last year was our first attempt at any jelly and it was a fail. Then we made it in November so we were worried that the crab apples were too far gone on the tree this year. There were more overly brown and rotten crab apples than in November, but still the tree was loaded down and Jon was able to pick about 1.5 gallons of crab apples from our ornamental crab apple tree.

There are tons of varieties of crab apples. Most people do not use the ornamental crab apples because they are so small and tedious to use, but they are perfectly edible and since we had them we thought we would put them to use.

Crab Apple Jelly Recipe

  • Fresh crab apples and sugar (we use pure cane sugar)
  • Cinnamon (optional)


  • Knife
  • Large Pot
  • Large Bowl
  • Colander
  • Cheese cloth (we use a linen napkin)
  • Measuring Cup
  • Medium Pot
  • Canning Jars
  • Canning Lids and Rings
  • Jar Grabber
  • Magnetic Lid Lifter
  • Jar Funnel
  • Canner

You can buy your canning supplies individually, but if you have none and need several items it is usually cheaper to purchase the basic canning supplies in a starter kit.


    1. Thoroughly wash and stem crab apples picking out any bad ones. If you are using small ornamental crab apples simply stem the large bulky stems and leaves. Stems are extremely stubborn and we left about half of them that would not easily pull off.
    2. Chop cleaned crab apples. If you are using a larger variety you may need to quarter them rather than chop them.
Chopped Ornamental Crab Apples
Chopped Ornamental Crab Apples
    1. Place chopped crab apples in a large pot adding just enough water to be able to see in the crab apples. You do not want them to be floating in the water. Bring to a hard boil, reduce heat to medium, and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You can start to smell the crab apples as they soften and change color.
    2. Strain the apples and juice through a colander into a large bowl and discard the pulp. Then strain the juice a second time through a cheese cloth (we use a linen napkin). At this point the juice is a cloudy pink.
Strain Juice Through a Cheese Cloth
Strain Juice Through a Cheese Cloth
    1. Measure your juice as you pour it into a medium pot. It is best to prepare jelly in small batches so that the juice is heated evenly. Pectin can also breakdown if boiled too long trying to get a large batch evenly heated. If you have more than 6 to 8 cups of juice I would suggest breaking it up into two jelly batches.
Measured Crab Apple Juice in Medium Pot
Measured Crab Apple Juice in Medium Pot
    1. Bring to simmer. Stir in Sugar until completely dissolved (3/4 cups of sugar for every 1 cup of juice). As the sugar dissolves the cloudy in the juice will clear up as it darkens to a red color. Stir in cinnamon until dissolved if desired. This will darken the color more.
Sugar Added to Juice (No Cinnamon)
Sugar Added to Juice (No Cinnamon)
    1. Bring to hard boil allowing it to boil for one minute (no more no less). Skim off any foam from the top. Reduce heat to a low boil until temperature reaches 220 to 222 degrees F (108 to 110 C). See “Testing the Jelly Point” for more details on how elevation effects the temperature. We have personally found 222 degrees F for us to work. Be sure to test your temperature in different places in your juice to ensure the temperature is uniform and that the entire batch is heated properly. Once the goal temperature is reached we find it especially helpful to also test with the cold plate method. It is best to use two methods to ensure your jelly is ready.
    2. When the jelly point has been reached, remove from heat and pour into small sterile jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. We used decorative half-pint jars as we plan on gifting some of it. If you power through a lot of jelly, you can use pint jars as well.
Hot Crab Apple Jelly Poured into Jars
  • Wipe the jar rims with a clean damp wash cloth and close with canning lids (presoaked in warm pot of water) and ring bands. Once all of your jelly has been placed in jars (if you needed multiple small batches) place jars inside a prepared canner using a canning jar grabber/lifter. Canner should be prepared and heated during the jelly process. Bring water in canner to boil and process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes to seal. Note: The 5 minute processing time is for altitudes of 0-1000 feet. Add 1 minute of processing time for each 1000 feet of additional altitude.
  • Remove jars from canner with jar grabber and gently place them on a towel. Space them a part enough that air can circulate between them allowing them to cool quicker. Shortly you’ll be hearing the pop, pop, pop of your jars as they seal.

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