Whole Food Homestead

plant. grow. reap. eat.

Tag: seasonal-fall (page 1 of 2)

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!

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

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

Winter-Meets-Spring Quinoa Salad


When we talk about seasonal produce, we are generally referring to those that grow locally during a specific time of year. There is of course a caveat with winter – when the ground is frozen solid, “seasonal” still includes those fall crops that store beautifully throughout the cold months – mainly, winter squashes and root vegetables (thus the many hearty stews and comfort foods that winter is known for). As we near the close of winter, however, our palates start to bore of those roasted and crock-pot-treated root vegetables, and we crave sweetness, lightness and crunch. That’s where this salad comes in. Continue reading

10-Minute Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables and Apples

IMG_6029 (1)

Honest, I timed myself – it took 10 minutes to prepare this meal, and that included a search for latex gloves to avoid pulling the gizzards out bare-handed (gotta say I love those latex gloves). Continue reading

Whole Food Toddler Snack Series: Sweet Potato Bites


It’s almost silly how easy this “recipe” is – really it’s more a trick than a recipe. I love this one because it transforms a unique (as far a snacks go anyway), healthful root vegetable into a portable, non-messy, finger-food. Continue reading

Whole Food Toddler Snack Series: Apple Pie Bars


I love that you can lay out the ingredients for this recipe and recognize every single one of them as an actual food! Nothing from a can, jar or plastic bag. It’s beautiful,  isn’t it? Continue reading

Simple Sweet Potato Skillet


I find that I have the most success getting whole foods, especially vegetables, onto our plates when I keep it simple. And this suits me perfectly, since I disdain complicated recipes and the typical post-recipe mess. A meal like this one makes easy use of the kale and broccoli still growing in our garden and takes advantage of in-season sweet potatoes. Continue reading

Start Your New Garden in 10 MINUTES


Starting a new garden is one of those projects that gets put off either because we think it will be a ton of work, or we just don’t know where to start. If that’s you, I have great news – just ten minutes of effort this fall will win you a fertile, weed and grass free garden plot that is ready to go in the spring! No ripping up sod, no spraying Roundup to kill grass, no tilling, no hauling in loads of compost and mulch – I’m not joking, it’s really hardly any work at all. And if you usually bag up your fall leaves, this method will actually save you time. I’m not going to make this sound more fancy than it really is – the process is simple:

Continue reading

Older posts