There are a lot of crabapple trees in my neighborhood. Even though they were planted for ornamental purposes, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat the fruit! The tree behind our house produces apples the size of cherries, and I’ve found some trees on a nearby street that have fruit the size of small plums. There are also loads of wild grapes growing around the edge of the nearby woods. Both this year and last we’ve made a delicious jam by combining these two fruits.
To make jam, I cook and puree each type of fruit separately before combining them. Crabapples are really easy to deal with. Rinse them, then dump them in a pot, and cover them about halfway up with water. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until the fruit is soft, about 20-30 minutes. Put the fruit through a food mill to remove the seeds and peels, then measure the puree.
Processing wild grapes is a bit more tedious, but worth the effort, especially if it’s something you only do once a year. You have to pick over the bunches to separate the ripe grapes from the green ones and the hard, dried up ones. Put the ripe grapes in a pot, crush with a potato masher and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, put through a food mill, and measure the puree.
If you start with about 2/3 of a colander full of each kind of fruit, you should end up with about 5 cups of puree, total. Combine the puree of both fruits in a pot. To 5 cups of puree, add 3 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly until done. After about 5 minutes check for doneness (put a saucer in the freezer before you start cooking; to test the jam, put spoonful of jam on the saucer, return to the freezer for 1 more minute, then check. If it’s ready, it should hold its shape in a spoon.) The crabapples are so full of pectin that this jam cooks quickly; 5 – 10 minutes should be plenty of time. Ladle the hot jam into clean, hot canning jars and process in a boiling water bath or put in the freezer when cool. Makes 6 half-pints. Really tasty on toast or as a condiment for meat.
If you don’t have access to wild grapes or if you just don’t feel like dealing with them, 100% crabapple jam is also delicious.