Tootling back along the Staffs and Worcester today to our marina, we passed by a row of John Downie Crab Apple Tree lining the towpath.
They are quite distinctive because of the rosy oblong fruit which is much sweeter than many crab apple varieties. The row between Gailey and Hatherton must have been planted at some point as they are generally ornamental trees confined to gardens but these are definitely freely available.
They are the same variety as the thirteen kilos my lovely friend picked from her neighbour and delivered to me shortly before we went away. My favourite recipe is definitely the Sweet Pickled Crab Apples from that batch, but the Apple Butter has to be a close second. I made it at the same time as the Crab Apple Cheese, taking half the contents of the stewed apple as a starting off point. I have never made a fruit cheese before and fancied giving it a go. I think I may need to do a little bit of experimenting to get it exactly right for my tastes as this recipe seems a bit sweet for me. However, so far, I have only tried it on its own. I suspect with a good sharp cheddar or a lovely piece of ham the apple cheese could blossom into its own. The apple butter is divine though. It is a little bit like curling up on a winter’s day in front of a roaring fire with a favourite book. Bliss.
Crab Apple Cheese
2kg Crab Apples, rinsed
food grade wax for sealing
Place apples in preserving pan with water and simmer gently until soft. Mash until pulpy. Push through sieve and weigh. For every 450g of pulp add 350g sugar to a separate bowl. Place pulp back into clean pan and warm gently until think and no liquid visible. Add sugar and stir till dissolved. Take off about half of the mixture if making Crab Apple Butter. Simmer mixture very slowly, for about an hour, until thick enough to see the base of the pan for a couple of seconds when spoon scraped through middle. Use small dishes (I used ramekins) brushed with glycerine and spoon mixture in. Seal with melted wax and leave to cool. Allow to mature for 4-6 weeks before using. Use within 12 months.
1/2 quantity of apple cheese mix
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Add the spices to the apple mix and stir. Heat gently until simmering. Boil rapidly for 10-15 mins until thick and creamy. Remove from heat and pour immediately into warm sterilised jars. Seal. Use within 12 months.