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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.

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  1. I made variations on crabapple jelly by cooking one plain batch then putting a jarfull into a smaller pan then stirring in a sprig of rosemary, thyme or a couple of sliced garlic cloves, letting it infuse over gentle heat then pouring it into jars. Scrummy.

  2. i’ve just made some from crab apples, think you can use any apples !!

  3. Hi there, I don’t know if this thread is still active but here’s hoping!

    I’m about to make the chilli apple jelly recipe from some windfalls and scrubby apples …possibly including some maggots! Is it still ok to make the fruit cheese from this type of pulp or do you need good apples to start with?

    Many thanks!

  4. caroline

    Me again – I meant to say Quince Cheese! I am worried that I will lose that too.

  5. caroline

    Disaster! I have just checked my crab apple & chilli cheese (which I made earlier this autumn) & most of the jars have either green or brownish mould on them. The ones that look clear have gone into the fridge. The cheese is greatly prized in our house, particularly by my 9 year old son! What do you think went wrong? I made some last year & it kept fine, I don’t think I did anything different this time. Should I store the Quince jelly I have just made differently?
    Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

  6. Hells Bells

    I always use my left over pulp to make fruit leathers. I have some extremely boozey cranberries left over from a christmas vodka I’ve been making. I was thinking the alcohol taste wouldn’t work well for leather so I will try the cheese method on them.

  7. Thanks for this, Fiona – I have made some today and it is excellent!

    By the way, you might like this book for more recipes, if you don’t have it already; I’ve made some lovely chutneys and cheeses from it over the years.

  8. Finley

    I made some damson cheese for the first time – I’m not sure if I overcooked it but it’s seriously sticky and pretty hard to cut, like the inside of a fruit pastille! Delicious once extracted, but.. does anyone know if it’ll get better if I leave it for the recommended 2 months or is it a wasted batch?
    Could always melt it down as a sauce for duck if so!
    Thanks for any help

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Finley

      It will harden as it ages. But all is not lost – see my article here for resurecting your jelly

  9. I’ve never heard of fruit “cheese” before but I’m definitely going to give this a try with the leftover pulp from the crab apple chili jelly I just strained. My only question is – what exactly do you eat it fruit cheese with? I don’t eat dairy cheese or meat, so I’m a little stumped. When I see recipes like this, they always say something like “goes well with Sunday roast or sharp cheddar.” Um, anything else? =) Looking forward to hearing your ideas!

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Barbara

    Mice ate my membrillo one year! Can’t think of a way to stop it happening except I now put it in an old tin with holes (banged out with a nail) in the airing cupboard to dry out.

    My dehydrator is used a lot now. I got 13 bell peppers from the market for £1.50 and they went straight in the dehydrator for later this winter. If stored in airtight containers they will last for at least a year.

    Interesting that you make apple butter in the microwave. We don’t have one so the slow cooker is the best choice for me.

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