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Hot crabapple chilli cheese

Photo: Crabapple jelly and crabapple cheese

Photo: Crabapple jelly and crabapple cheese

I only discovered how delicious fruit cheeses are a few years ago. Until then I had rejected them out of hand – using the left over pulp from jelly making seemed skinflint behaviour to me. And anyway would this pulp have any flavour at all?

I didn’t even bother to taste the pulp when jelly making which was a big mistake as I missed out on this treat. Fruit cheese can be sliced and served with starters, chops, roasts, cheese and even with fruit desserts.

Crabapples, particularly when they first start to ripen often produce very little juice. But the jelly making process leaves a lot of pulp. By turning this into cheese you are using all of your foraged bounty (crabapples are not generally for sale in the shops as they aren’t grown commercially in the UK).

I’ve deliberately used a small amount of crabapples in this recipe as the less that you use dramatically effects time that it takes to make the cheese. Our quince cheese recipe (Membrillo) can take several hours to thicken.

I took a tip from Sarah who left a comment on our hot crabapple chilli jelly recipe and added some chopped dried chillies just before potting. Excellent. Thank you Sarah.

This recipe made just over a pound of jelly and four small straight sided jars of cheese.

Hot crab apple and chilli cheese 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 320g to each 400ml of pulp
• 2-3 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
• 2-3 small chopped dried Bird’s Eye chillies to be added at the end just before potting up

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 to the boil and simmer very gently (lid on) until the crab apples soften and become pulpy. This took about 45 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.
3. Strain through a muslin square or jelly bag overnight.
4. Retain the juice for hot crabapple jelly – our recipe is here.

5. Strain the pulp through a sieve
6. Add the pulp to a large heavy bottomed pan and add the sugar. Bring very slowly to the boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
7. When the sugar is dissolved simmer gently stirring every now and then until the pulp thickens. This took me about twenty minutes as I was using a large pan, it would take more time in a smaller pan. Watch the sides of the saucepan, when you notice the pulp thickening on the sides the cheese is ready.
8. Dollop into well greased (I used olive oil) warm sterilised flat sided jars. Fit cellophane tops or lids and leave to cool.

  Leave a reply


  1. I have 3 large quinces waiting to be made into jelly and membrillo, probably next week. I am concerned about leaving it out to dry as I have had mice in the house in the autumn every year since I moved into this house and they find any food not stored in tins or boxes. They haven’t moved in this year and I don’t want to tempt them. Any suggestions?

    Inspired by your site, I bought a dehydrator from Westfalia to deal with a glut of pears and apples. I am not sure how long they will last (due to being eaten, not spoiling) but will use them in Christmas cooking. I make apple butter in the microwave as it is quicker and less apt to burn than traditional recipes.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kate

    You can eat the crabapple cheese straight away.

    Grest idea adding sage.

    Hi Helen

    Like the idea of using cinnamon.

    The addition of chopped dried chillies is a)pretty and b) very tasty.

    Hello Choclette

    Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Choclette

    This has all made fascinating reading. I’ve always hated throwing away so much pulp when making jellies and now I don’t have to anymore. Also love the idea of making them with chillies. Thank you.

  4. Helen Michael

    Hi everyone and Fiona in particular,

    This is all very inspiring. I have made rather a lot of crabapple jelly- both spiced with cinnamon and plain, now I wonder whether I shoudl reboil some with some chilli after all…
    I also made sloe and crabapple jelly and loathe to chuck it will use the pulp for cheese tonight, I’ll keep you posted…
    Happy cooking!

  5. I have just made a batch of crab apple and chilli cheese and, inspired by some apple jelly I bought last year, added some sage to half the batch. We had some apple, sage and chilli jelly last year with bread, cheese, pork and cider. It was one of the most glorious picnics I have ever had!

    Fiona – I know that you recommend leaving damson cheese for at least 2 months before eating – would you advise doing the same for the crab apple cheese?

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Helcatmichael

    I made some wonderful jelly last night – sweet yet tart and with a real chilli kick!

    Hi Babs

    You could try putting it through a mouli or food mill.

  7. Hi all,
    My beautiful but somewhat stupid (lol) daughter has used the pulp from the crab apple and chilli jelly to make the cheese. Unfortunately she missed one very important line in the recipe, and that was to sieve the pulp. We now have a large amount of lovely flavoured but foul textured cheese. Is this destined for the bin or does anybody know if we can we remedy this.

  8. Helcatmichael

    I am so excited about my little bag of crabapples- scavenged today- I cannot wait to make all these things- I have lots of mint and basil growing on my windowsill- I may add some to the jelly and cheese! I love all things with chilli, so clearly need to do that too, and cloves sound amazing, as does vanilla!

    thanks very much!


  9. Thanks for that Lawrence – I’ve used jars this time as I needed to make the stuff, and couldn’t find any dishes that were suitable and wouldn’t cost me a fortune (I’ll keep my eyes open before next year to see if I can get some so I can do it properly then).

  10. Hi Vialdana,
    For any fruit cheese, I usually don’t use jars, but square or rectangular oven-proof dishes (tip from my mother – it makes it so much easier to cut it into any shape you want to serve it). I pour the hot paste in the dish (grease or slightly damp) and leave it until is has cooled down and solidified (about 2 to 3 days – cover it with a clean tea towel, but do not use cling film or foil or anything air-tightening). Once it has solidified, you can wrap it twice in baking parchment and leave it on a plate or a dish, or even a plastic box (but I don’t use plastic). All you need to do it replace the baking parchment from time to time as it will get a little sticky and damp from the sugar seeping from the cheese. You can keep it like that for a very long time indeed and it will gradually get drier and drier, but never really hard. Some people prefer to keep it in an airtight plastic container, I don’t because I can taste the plastic, but it is up to you. I hope that helps.

    By the way, I made my last batch of crab apple jelly last night (not chilli, this one is for the children – I had complaints!) and I added some hard pears and Bramley apples AND… vanilla pods!! I cut them in half and then lengthwise to scrape out the seeds and left the whole lot to boil with the juice and the sugar until ready. I poured the jelly and stuck the vanilla pod/s in the middle of the jars. So pretty (you can also see the black seeds floating in the jelly) and so, SO tasty! The house was filled with the sweet, delicious aroma of vanilla, sugar and fruit…
    The problem is, I STILL have loads of crab apples on the tree in the garden!! It pains me to leave them to the birds and squirrels… But I think we have enough jellies and cheeses… Should I have one last go? Any suggestions or ideas of one last easy ‘thing’ I could make?…..

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