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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. hi fiona

    thanks for your reply (didn’t realise i had one till now – sorry for my delay!)

    i did try to grow chillis again this yr, but they weren’t all that successful (last yr’s went well before whitefly came and they wilted straightaway with no chance of recovery!). out of the two plants i had, one didn’t come true, and ended up being a roma-shaped pepper (not hot at all!) and a normal chilli, birds-eye type, but it never bushed/or grew taller. nor flowered again. all in all, i think i had about no more than 20 chillis out of them, and so, i didn’t have any spare come this time of yr, and they were cooked at least 2 a week in our meals. i do have lots of dried whole and flaked chilli in my cupboards, so i think that’ll be a good substitute, altho’ using fresh would be aesthetically pleasing as it’ll stand out more in the jars..oh well, next yr, perhaps!

  2. gonna make this tomorrow once i’ve harvested some more today on my forage walk. I don’t have enough red chillis at home, and will have to resort to buying some. Notice they’re v. expensive for packets of whatever grams they’re in, when you only get about 3 red ones out of 20 or so that are green. Will this matter? I’m wondering if I let them ripen on the windowsill, will they redden over time, if so, for how long? is there much difference in using frozen crabs for this recipe?

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Irridium

      You can use green chillies – red are hotter so you need to adjust. Not sure how long that the chillies would take to go red.

      Totally agree chillies are expensive to buy so its worth growing loads and drying them. We always buy them when they are marked down in price and dry these too. Dried chillies are even stronger and last well in airtight jars.

      Frozen crabs would be fine! Cook from frozen rather than let them defrost.

  3. Made a batch of this today – delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe and the tips.

  4. Hi there – first time on the site and first time with recipe. Moved into house in North Yorkshire and discovered a large crab apple tree loaded with fruit, so one web search and here we are.

    I did 600g of fruit after coring and then left for about 55minutes. obviously that nearly killed it so i added a litre of water to try and bring back to life. I strained as per the instructions and it has come out an amazing deep ruby red colour. The wife is very impressive with my ability to find setting point!!

  5. Heather Espley

    Hi Claire

    I’ve just done this recipe using twice the amount of apples and water. As I had only 50g of fresh red chilli, and not the 70g needed for the double quantity, I added a good pinch of dried chilli to the mash. The end result was a fresh appley first taste, with a zingy touch of heat following through – not enough to blow your socks off! I suggest you try the quantities given in the original recipe first and taste it at the potting stage. You can then add a pinch of dried chillie to each pot if you want the extra heat.

    This was my first time with the recipe and I found that the strained juice was quite a cloudy pale pink. However, once the sugar was added and it was well skimmed during the boiling stage, the jelly turned a beautiful rose pink and was perfectly clear. So don’t be put off by the colour of the juice. The end result looks lovely – can’t wait to tuck in.


  6. haha, ok! That will make a difference 🙂 Thank you!

  7. Hej!
    I found your website when I was searching for spicy recipes with apples and chilies.
    I have made the jelly and it really turned out well. It turned out to be impossible to add bits of chili or even a whole one, they kept on floating, just like you said they would.

    As I could not find this comment you were referring to, could you tell me how you go about adding chili’s without them coming up?

    I really enjoy your blog and was very grateful for the tip on the free software!

    Warm wishes from sunny Sweden,

    • Fiona Nevile

      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.

  8. This might sound a daft question, but are you able to tell me how hot this turns out? Basing it on a usual Indian menu, would you say we are talking about a korma, a madras, a vin daloo, a phal, or anything in between? I like a little piquancy, but cannot take it too spicy. Am thrilled to have found a recipe that will use up my crab apples as well!


  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Caroline

    It’s great that you’ve got the preserving bug. Thanks for leaving such a positive comment – much appreciated.

  10. I have just finished sausages & mash with my Crab apple & chilli jelly – thank you for a great recipe! I didn’t have enough chillis, so also put in a few chopped up dried chillis at the end. I also made the crab apple cheese & crab apple chutney. The chutney already tastes lovely – the cheese is coming out on friday with cheese & biscuits at a dinner party. My husband thinks I’m going mad, there are now 3 types of homemade chutney in the house. I also tried your plum chutney, which I have resisted trying yet, but it smelt fantastic whilst it was simmering.
    I will be back!

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