Whole Food Homestead

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Tag: gluten free (page 1 of 3)

Make Crabapple Jelly with a Juicer

I have to say, I’m proud of this one. I believe I’ve nailed a technique that isn’t really out there on the internet from what I could find. I wanted to make crabapple jelly without the hassle of simmering, mashing, and slowly draining a massive amount of apple mush. So, use a juicer, right? Seems straightforward, but there’s a catch. Apparently juicing the apples doesn’t get enough pectin out of the skins to achieve a good set, so the only recipes using a juicer that I found called for adding commercial pectin. But blah, I didn’t want to add commercial pectin – it shouldn’t be necessary with crabapples, as they are naturally very high in pectin, and who wants to buy an extra thing and add an extra thing, when nature’s highest pectin producer is already your main ingredient?? Read on for my solution – it turns out you CAN make delicious crabapple jelly without added ingredients or the dreaded cooking and straining required with the conventional method.

First, you’ll need to find yourself some crabapples. It shouldn’t be hard. Many crabapple trees are considered ornamental only, when really they work great for things like jelly and fruit leather. Taste the apple – it doesn’t matter how tart it is, just make sure it doesn’t taste like perfume and you’re good to go. We have what I believe is a Dolgo crabapple tree in our backyard, and they are prolific in our area – many neighbors have them and they grow wild in parkland as well. Don’t be afraid to go begging or scavenging! That neighbor will thank you, as most of these apples drop to the ground, make a mess, and attract wasps and hornets.


Here’s what you’ll need to make one pint of crabapple jelly:

  • 10 cups of crabapples
  • Juicer
  • Nut milk bag or cheese cloth
  • Large pot
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Candy thermometer
  • Jars for jelly – two half-pints or one pint.

Here’s the method:

  • Pick the apples, ripe or slightly under-ripe. In most cases, ripe crabapples will have a pink to deep red color. Off the tree or the ground is fine. Avoid rotten or mushy ones but some blemishes are fine.
  • Rinse the apples. You can figure this one out.
  • Juice the apples in your juicer and SAVE THE PULP. Skim any foam off the top. You will have about 4 cups of juice.
  • Here it is, my novel idea!: Put the pulp into your nut milk bag, or tie it up in several layers of cheese cloth. This is effectively a giant pectin tea bag for your apple juice. By letting this bag simmer in the juice, we are going to release some of that pectin that is bound up in the skins, ensuring that we will have enough to get the jelly to set without adding commercial pectin powder. 
  • Put the juice, two cups sugar and the bag of pulp (don’t let it spill!) in a pot and bring to a simmer (the pot should be less than half full, as the juice will foam quite a bit). Skim foam again – it doesn’t have to be perfect.
  • Let simmer 5-10 minutes, then carefully press the excess juice out of the bag of pulp, perhaps pressing it between a wooden spoon and the wall of the pot.
  • Put in your candy thermometer, then turn heat to high and start stirring constantly, watching the temperature. When the temp reads 220°F, remove from heat. If you want to double check that you have reached the gel state, you can put a bit of juice on a plate in the freezer for a couple minutes. If it is thick and wrinkles when you push your finger through, you’re good to go.
  • Pour the jelly into jars. It will keep for a year in the fridge, or you can follow canning instructions for shelf-stable jelly that will last indefinitely.

Making jelly can be finicky, but crabapples are so incredibly high in pectin that success should come easily. And with the juicer, the experience is so much less clumsy and messy. I hope that you will  collect some crabapples and give this a try! They are dropping from the trees at this moment, so get out there!

Fermented Pickles

Before the jarred pickles lining the shelves today, people enjoyed naturally fermented cucumbers. Their sour taste was not from vinegar, but from lactic acid produced by healthy bacteria, which also served to preserve the pickles. When the fermentation process was complete, the vat of pickles would be stored in the root cellar where the cool temps would help them last for months and months. Today, of course, you can buy a sealed jar of pickles that will last indefinitely, but the trade-off is in the nutrition. Continue reading

Warm Millet with Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb is in season! Everyone ought to have rhubarb in their yard somewhere – not only does it come back every year, demand very little care, and escape most if not all pests and diseases, but it’s the first crop of the season that lends itself to sweet and fruity dishes. We don’t have to wait for berry season to enjoy jams, spreads, pies, crisps and compotes thanks to this early producer. Continue reading

Water Kefir: Make Your Own Probiotic Drink

I post so rarely these days, although I’m often thinking of things I’d love to share. So when free time to blog is scarce, I must think about which morsel of information I reeeaally want to share. So, this is it – a delicious, fizzy probiotic drink that you can brew at home simply with sugar water and a starter culture. Continue reading

Beef Stew with Root Vegetables

Making a good stew should be considered a basic life skill. It’s simple, doesn’t require an exact recipe or set of ingredients, and the result is a nourishing, savory meal, all in one pot. Continue reading

Cold & Flu Care Package

I recently threw together a care package for a friend of mine who could not seem to kick a bad cold she had. My package of goodies wasn’t full of the normal pharmacy fare, but rather various concoctions in glass bottles and jars. Continue reading

Green Chocolate Smoothie


Smoothies are great, right? Delicious, nutritious… But honestly I am too lazy to bother blending together a bunch of fruity ingredients that my family is already happy to eat whole. BUT, if there’s a delicious way to get, say, GREENS, into me, my kids and husband (without having to use a truckload of fruit for a fruit-masked green smoothie) – I’m on board. And that’s what happened with this recipe. Continue reading

Squash Pie – Breakfast, Brunch or Dessert!


Don’t think squash belongs in a pie? Well, get over it!  Squash is naturally sweeter than pumpkin and makes for a delicious, custardy, warmly spiced treat – or in the case of this recipe – breakfast, brunch, snack, or whatever! Continue reading

Roasted Tomato Soup


Roasted tomato soup is the natural beauty of fall recipes – a few simple ingredients play together effortlessly to create what is easily my seasonal favorite. Continue reading

The Straight Story on Kombucha + Brew Your Own


The popularity of kombucha has exploded in the last several years. This functional drink didn’t even enter the American market until 1995, yet by 2015 it was a $0.6 billion industry, and its growth is expected reach $1.8 billion by 2020.  Despite its status as a raging trend, what I love about kombucha is that it is nothing new – it has been around for centuries, perhaps even as early as 221 BC in China, where it was known as the “tea of immortality.” Kombucha is historically known as a healing beverage, and it continues in that tradition today. Continue reading

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