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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

Urban Foraging

Updated: Nov 20

AS YOU CAN SEE from this photo, I became an urban forager in early November after my friend Nancy and I noticed half a dozen trees full of crabapples in the city park across from her house. I can assure you that collecting crabapples was a total breeze compared to my annual attempts to find spring morels. We harvested about 2 lbs. of these firm yellow orbs.

This action moved me to the lofty idea of making crabapple hot pepper jelly as Christmas gifts for our families and friends. Truly a new adventure for me.

I purchased a dozen ½ pint-glass jars made by Ball® and leaned heavily on several recipes from the web landing on this site. I even bought some pectin in case my crabapples did not supply enough of their own.

I also considered color to be important to the finished product and added fresh cranberries in both the mash stage and the final jelly stage where I finely chopped them to be included with the jalapenos and green peppers.

The real breakthrough for my recipe was depending on an electronic thermometer that I bought last year to begin cooking by temperature. I hadn’t considered its first use would be for jelly making. The gentle rolling candy-making stage took longer than the recipe called for but when I finally hit 220 F for a full minute, I made the courageous decision to stop stirring and turned off the heat.

I filled the jars and sealed them. Would the water-bathed jars set up properly?

Pure luck was with me. They began to firm up after an hour.

Nancy and I sampled the first jar of crabapple pepper jelly with crackers and cream cheese that night. I can report there is little chance that these eight little jars will be around at Christmas.

This was fun but a lot of work. I might suggest two purveyors from our area for holiday gift baskets that offer jams and jellies.

Cherry Republic

Food For Thought

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