I get a lot of requests for crabapple jelly. Last year, I sold out in the middle of the Christmas season so I thought I’d make more this year. My faithful helper Caitlin (also my beloved niece) and I booked a picking day. We went out to Okotoks – a nice couple there lets us pick their tree. Their son-in-law is an arborist and trims the tree yearly so it yields like a real working tree would in an orchard. The branches were heavily laden. We picked 2 1/2 large bins. Caitlin was sure it was the same amount we’d picked last year – I thought it was perhaps twice as much.
I had been at a funeral two weeks prior and noticed they had a great tree. I called and received permission to pick there. So we went and picked everything we could reach which was easily another bucketful. I started processing soon after and by the time I was done straining the juice, I had filled three 8 litre buckets and my huge canner (probably 15 litres). This seemed like more than I’d had last year. Yes. Yes it was. By the time I was done making jelly for 11 hours, I had 225 jars. Yikes.
That night I wrote an email to my supplier asking him if he knew the variety of tree it was. He wrote back saying he didn’t know but he’d picked the rest of the apples (the high ones) and would I like them. I had to drive out and give them a big jar of jelly in any case. When I got there, he handed me two huge bags. Turned out to be 35 more pounds of apples. I did some internet research and found a crabapple butter recipe. It is delicious – 35 lbs of apples yielded 45 jars (would have been more but I burned one batch).
I often wondered why people didn’t use their crabapples themselves. I suppose the answer is that no family can eat 225 jars of jelly and 45 jars of butter in a year.