Crab Apple Jelly

I have just picked all the crab apples off our tree - more than I thought there were! :D

I am making crab apple jelly but it seems to take a lot of sugar! Does anyone have a hint/tip for reducing the sugar, or is that just the way it has to be? I love crab apple jelly like Mum used to make, but I also want to reduce our sugar intake


  • @kmartin.mail substitute with honey maybe. Okay it does not reduce the overall amount of sugar that much but you normally only need 2/3 the amount of honey compared to sugar.

    You could also substitute some of the sugar with extract from stevia plant but be carefull as to much of it might taste bitter.

  • tammyrichardsmt9
    tammyrichardsmt9 Posts: 109 ✭✭✭

    I think many people can jelly with honey instead of sugar. I'm sure there are those who have used stevia as well. Crab apple jelly sounds pretty good, I have never had it.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    I would be very interested to hear from someone who has made a sugar reduced jelly without the addition of commercial pectin. Crabapples make a lovely jelly without the need for any additional pectin but it relies on the sugar content to help the natural pectin and acid in the fruit jell. Any recipes I have ever seen for a sugar reduced jelly uses commercial pectin.


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,518 admin

    I don't know that honey is a good option. When you heat honey too much, it reduces its healthy properties. At a certain point, it becomes a bad sugar much like high fructose corn syrup.

    I do think that some things just require sugar or a certain amount to work. I know that as far as a jam goes, we freeze our fruits and make it as we want to use it. This way we can reduce sugar amounts.

    @tammyrichardsmt9 Crab apple jelly is great! 😋

  • Karin
    Karin Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    @tammyrichardsmt9 crab apple jelly is lovely - very delicate taste, clear rosy colour :) if you can find some definitely try it

    @Laurie I think you may be right, re the honey, also some jams and jellies just do need that amount of sugar.

    @torey I have seen jam-setting sugar in the supermarket which I think has pectin in as well, may try that and see.

    Thanks :)

    Will post a photo of finished product @tammyrichardsmt9

  • VickiP
    VickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    I had some very sweet pears that I would mix with crab apples for jelly as well as butter. For the butter I used very little sugar and no pectin, it did set up nicely and I used it as a relish with our home grown pork. For the jelly I did add sugar but was able to reduce the amt.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,518 admin

    For some reason, I didn't clue in to the apples containing pectin. 🤦‍♀️ Pectin is what will actually make it set. Slightly underripe apples will have even more pectin. This is one product that you might be able to get away with using less sugar, as VickiP stated.

    What I might be concerned with is the amount of time the jelly may be good for. Sugar is a type of preservative.

    One good thing about experimenting with this is that it can always be done over if it doesn't work the first time.

  • Karin
    Karin Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    The last lot I made is still good 2 years later :)

    This is a pic of one of today's jars:

    sorry I can't work out how to make it smaller :(

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    For years my cousin made jellies without adding any pectin and very little sugar. She just kept the fruit at a simmer, letting the excess moisture evaporate, until it was the right consistency.

  • Gail H
    Gail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

    I am a big fan of Pomona's Pectin. It stores forever and can be purchased in bulk.

    I think the paper that comes with the pectin even has a recipe for totally sugar free apple jelly. I'm assuming it would work with crab apples as well.

    I used to get crab apples at the farm where my kids worked, but they "improved " them so much that they were pretty large and lacked the pectin needed for a good set. The way of the world- improve the nutrients right out of food!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    Cooking the fruit down to the desired consistency with as little sugar as you choose works for jam making. But after reading through the comments, I don't think there is a way to get sugar-free or sugar-reduced jelly without using commercial pectin and acid of some sort, whether it be a jam setting sugar or dry powder or bottled liquid. Jelly recipes are a specific ratio of fruit juice and sugar. Some recipes use more sugar than others based on the chemistry of the fruit used. Some fruit just has no pectin or acid of its own and needs that to set. When I have fruit like that I make my own apple pectin and add lemon juice for the acid, but still need the correct ratio of sugar. Apple pectin on its own is not going to set the juice without sugar. When I make jelly, I am looking for a beautiful, clear, jelled juice as pictured above by @kmartin.mail, that is still good, as she says, 2 years later.

  • Leslie Carl
    Leslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭

    @kmartin.mail I've been using coconut sugar to replace white sugar. It does however affect the flavor a bit, much like brown sugar does, but I prefer it because it has half the glycemic index of white sugar, and doesn't metabolize as quickly. So, no sugar rush and no "crash" afterwards.

    In order to use it for jams and jellies, here's what Pamona's Pectin has to say about it:

  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @kmartin.mail Sugar, the real stuff, usually referred to as cane sugar, is actually probably better for you than many of the concoctions that are created in a lab or manufactured like cocaine. From what I can gather the cultures were sugarcane originated still continue to use and consume sugar but have less issues and problems with obesity, cancer, diabetes, etc. than countries colonized by Europeans.

    When I do my canning, I use Organic Raw Cane Sugar.

  • Karin
    Karin Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    @Gail H I think our crab apple tree is an "improved" variety too, as the apples look larger than the crab apples I remember from the tree we had when I was a child. And also, I think the flavour is not as "tart". :(

    @Obiora E I like to use organic raw cane sugar too, but I wasn't sure how it would change the jelly so just used common white sugar.

    @torey thank you!! :)

  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @kmartin.mail I have never used white sugar for making jams nor jellies, but presumably it wouldn't change the jelly.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I find using fresh cider sweetens most jellies and you can cut back the amount of sugar used. I plant to make crab apple jelly this weekend so will give it a try.