The Cottage Smallholder

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Hot crab apple and chilli jelly recipe

crab apple and chilli jellyEveryone seems to be talking about chillies. They are said to trigger “feel good” endorphins and are packed with vitamin A, an immune system boosting antioxidant. Chillies improve the digestive process too as they stimulate the action of the intestine and stomach.

This year I was determined to make crab apple and chilli jelly. My first attempt was so so. There was a chilli tingle when I tasted the juice. I chucked it away. My recipe from Oded Schwartz’s Preserving added 3-4 medium heat chillis. Are these desseded? I’d used three desseded ones. A long foray on the Internet offered no clues. Chop and add your chillis seemed to be the line. So when I simmered my crab apples and chillies a couple of days ago, I left the seeds in. The result was a tasty juice with just the sort of kick I wanted. Hot but not hellish.

Hot crab apple and chilli jelly recipe


  • 600g of crab apples washed and chopped
  • 35g of medium red chilli peppers, washed and chopped with seeds in
  • 1 litre of water
  • White granulated sugar 500g to each 500ml of juice


  1. Put the chopped crab apples and chillies in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.
  2. Add 1 litre of water (they should just be floating). Bring tp the boil and simmer until the crab apples soften and become pulpy (lid on). This took about 45 minutes.
  3. Strain through a muslin square or jelly bag overnight. (Retain the pulp to make hot crab apple and chilli cheese)
  4. Add the juice to a large heavy bottomed pan and add the sugar. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the juice and sugar has come to the boil remove from the heat and skim well. Return to the heat and bring to a rolling boil until setting point is reached. This took 15 minutes.
  5. Skim and pour into warm sterilised jars. Oded Schwartz adds a chilli (stalk removed and split once lengthwise) as the jelly is setting. I really wanted to set chillies in the jelly but be warned this is a nightmare. The jelly needs to be setting firmly otherwise the chillies gently float to the surface again, and again and again. I made two jars with chillies and abandoned the rest.
  6. Update: Following Sarah’s tip (see comments),I added two firey dried chopped chillies to the jelly. Marvellous.


  1. I have been reading these and can’t to get some more crab apples ( gathered – picked – or should I use the windfalls ?) and make soem crab apple jelly tomorrow.

    What a fab site !

  2. made this today – lovely!! even my mum who doesn’t eat chilli’s was converted… couldn’t get chilli’s in the jelly, but the colour was so lovely I didn’t really need to bother – will be making some more tomorrow 🙂

  3. I agree with Shiela about the amount of pectin in crabapples but clearly, some earlier contributors have had issues with detecting the setting point, not everyone knows the “wrinkles on a cold saucer” trick.

    We made our crabapple and chilli jelly today. Just over 5kg of crabs with 220 gm of chillies. We used two packets of Tescos mixed chillies and two packets of hot chillies, all grown in the next county. Two of the chillies were Scotch Bonnets and the rest, I think, Hungarian Wax. Around 3l of juice was boiled with around 3kg of sugar (actually a pound to a UK 20oz pint). We ended up with a dozen jars of pleasantly spicy jelly. Next time I would add more chillies.

  4. I used a thermometer, but I do not think it is really necessary with crab apples because they are full of pectin, and good thermometerd are expensiver to buy if you do not use one normally. I also used normal sugar with no problems.

    I have since made the jelly minus the chilli and it is lovely. Apparently 2011 it has been one of the best years for crab apples, we still have about half the crop left and have friends coming over Friday for a meal and to pick the rest to use :).

  5. As we have lots of 2007 crabapple jelly left (we only eat it with lamb) we are going to try crabapple and chilli this year.

    The answer to the setting problem that worries a few people is to buy a jam or sugar thermometer. This has the setting point for various things including jam marked on the scale. Crabapples are full of pectin and should set easily.

  6. I picked nearly 8lbs of crab apples from my tree last Friday, my crab tree is the dark leaf and pink blossom with red fruit, so any jelly will turn out red.

    I washed and roughly chopped them in my processor, boiled until soft then tied in muslin and hung to drain. I left it hanging for 48 hours. Yesterday I finished the jelly off and what a lovely set I have and a beautiful clear red jelly with a good hint of chilli running through it. I have quite a few jars of all different sizes, so plenty for me and the family who love it and some to give away.

    What I picked was about a quarter of the crop, so in the next few days I am going to make some sweet crab apple jelly, I am thinking of using the recipe without the chilli of course.

    A great recipe and one that will be used every crab apple season I am sure.


  7. Hello eveyone, I am not a “cottage smallholder” at but from farming stock and was browsing for chilli jam. I make loads of jam and marmalade, well over 100 jars per year, which make wonderful presents. I don’t often make chutney as, apart from my “kitchen sink” chutney, there is not so much demand for these as for jam. I think that this might be that so many peope seem to make chutney. I think that this chilli jam might be a little unusual for most.

    Using crab apples, or windfalls which are a bit under-ripe, I make herb jellies. The usual is mint but sage works well. (I colour the mint otherwise it is a weird colour.)

    Rowan berry jelly is also different with a slightly bitter taste, ideal for fatty meats/game. The colour is lovely.

    I either package my jams in wicker baskets, picked up cheaply from wherever, or wrap each jar in cellophane and tie with ribbon and maybe add a spray of artificial leaves/flowers. I print off the labels and add fabric tops or not on a whim. As I buy my jars and tops in bulk I always have pristine tops and they don’t always look better covered.

    Hope these comments are of interest.

  8. Or with Xmas spices!

  9. Cuckoo

    What a fabulous and easy recipe this is. I made 3 jars this morning and liked it so much I’ve got batch 2 in a jelly bag already. Thought I might try some without chillies but with rosemary and garlic. Don’t know if it will work but have a glut of crab apples and sugar’s not expensive so why not give it a go and see? Love the website – one of my favourites on the net.

    • Fiona Nevile

      I bought a really good apple and garlic jelly last year. Must make some this year!

  10. Heather E

    On 11 September FN said:

    “Hi Monique
    When you have filled the jars, let them cool down a bit and then keep on turning them over (10 minutes upside down and then 10 minutes upright and so on) eventually the chillies will be distributed evenly through the jelly.”

    I tried this with lavender flowers when experimenting with apple and lavender jelly, and got the lids and rims of jars all sticky with the jelly. I cleaned up the lids and jars when the jelly was cool, but wonder if opening the jars will be detrimental to the seal. Have you found any way round this, FN?

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