So, the BF and I were walking to the farmers market the other day, when we passed a fruit tree on the corner of 14th and Jefferson SW. It was a crabapple tree, and I do love crabapples. We had a crabapple tree in our yard when I was a kid growing up in New Jersey. I remember eating them until I got a stomach ache.
Belmont (my dog) and grabbed a tote bag, braved the yellow jackets and picked a couple pounds of fruit. The tree was lightly picked, and the color was fabulous, a deep fuscia.
A few of them were buggy and bad, but most were perfect.
I looked up recipes on the Internet and cookbooks. The pickled crabapples looked good, as did the crabapple butter. But I settled for the classic; crabapple jelly.
But I had no small canning jars.
(An amusing aside: two days earlier the BF saw a case of jelly jars at the goodwill. I said not to buy them because I didn't plan on canning jelly.)
Ha! Life is funny. Not only did I have two pounds of fruit to process, but I had nothing to put the jelly in.
A trip to the thrift shops yielded no more jelly jars. But, I did find some 1950s depression glass punch cups. I decided to use them, and seal the jelly with parrafin.
Making the jelly was easy -- relatively easy -- cook the fruit with water until soft. Pass through a jelly bag to separate juice from pulp. HEat pulp, add sugar and Bob's your uncle, Jelly.
Jelly Bag? Of course I didn't have a jelly bag. But, I did have cheese cloth. I passed the cooked fruit through cheese cloth in batches. The cloth kept buckling and I almost spilled pulp into the juice a couple of times.
I had about three cups of juice. Following the jelly instructions in The Joy of Cooking, I cooked the juice, added 3/4 cups of sugar per cup of juice and let simmer until it reached at 220 degrees. Crabapples have lots of natural pectin so I didn't need to buy pectin. I kept a thermometer on it, waiting for it to gel. I waited and waited. When it hit temp, I didn't have to measure it. I remembered making jelly with my mom and sister as a kid. It just jels. All by itself. Very cool.
I got a whopping four punch jars of jelly: but aren't they just as cute as can be?
A few days later, the BF found another three or four pounds of crabapples. So, I made another five jars of jelly.
What I did when I picked up the stray fruit is called "urban fruit harvesting" and it's a concept that's been practiced since blbilcal times.
Making the most of the resources at hand (and not wasting good fruit or nuts) is part of the Portland ethos.
There are sites that pinpoint free fruit/nut sources in PDX. The best map is found at Urban Edibles
Just another reason to love, love, love Portland.