Crabapple Jelly, Easy homemade recipe with canning instructions.

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If you have a crabapple tree, you know how productive they can be! These trees produce apples that are tart and tiny! Learn how to make crabapple jelly and make use of them. This recipe makes about 5–6 half pints of jelly. 

Since crabapples have lots of natural pectin you will not need to add any to them.  Just apples sugar and water.  

This Page Includes:

Crabapple Jelly: Extended, Step-By-Step Directions



  • 3 pounds crabapples 
  • 3 cups water 
  • 4 cups sugar 

How to Make Crabapple Juice

Wash crabapples and remove stems, leaves or any debris. Cut off any bad places and slice off the blossom ends. No need to peel thank goodness. Place fruit in a saucepan and give them a good rinse with fresh cold water. Drain in a colander. (I like to rinse and drain twice.). You want the apples clean as you will be cooking them in the next step and using that water to make your jelly.

Add enough water to cover by an inch or so and bring to a boil. When it is boiling you need to cook the apples. Lower heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Until they are soft. You are drawing out the juices into the cooking water.

After cooking is complete, strain apple mixture through a double layer of cheesecloth or a jelly bag. If you are after clear award winning jelly, don’t press the mixture! When you press it some of the pulp will end up in your juice. This will make cloudy jelly. The ultimate jelly will be super clear and crisp looking.

True confessions here… 🤷‍♀️ I do press just a bit. My jelly is a bit cloudy. I’m not after an award at the fair. I like to get the extra flavor from the apples. Now don’t take this to mean that you can press hard and add bunches of pulp. If you do that, you’ll have jam. We do want jelly here. Just don’t stress about a small amount of pulp if it doesn’t bother you.

Crabapple Jelly Recipe Book format.

This recipe is one of the recipes available in The SimplyCanning Guide. If you like this… you’ll love the book format! Spiral bound and everything.

Book page of this crabapple jelly recipe in the SimplyCanning Guide, links to the book description.

How to Make Crabapple Jelly

Measure out 4 cups of crabapple juice you just made. Stir in all… that… sugar and bring to a boil over high heat until it reaches your gelling point. A candy thermometer makes measuring this easy.

Gelling Point Chart

  • sea level -220 ° F
  • 1,000 ft  -218 ° F
  • 2,000 ft – 216 ° F
  • 3,000 ft – 214 ° F
  • 4,000 ft – 212 ° F
  • 5,000 ft – 211 ° F
  • 6,000 ft – 209 ° F
  • 7,000 ft – 207 ° F
  • 8,000 ft – 205 ° F

These temperatures are suggested by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  But I’ve found that if I cook my jam and jelly to just a little higher than suggested… it seems to work better.

YES! It’s a lot of sugar. Crab apples are tart and I don’t think a low sugar recipe would work well. Remember this is just a condiment. You’ll be using it on toast. You likely won’t be scooping spoonfuls into your mouth. (You could do that… but most people don’t. 😁 )

In addition the sugar is needed for the fruit to gel properly.

Skim foam if needed. I don’t find that crabapples leave much foam but if it does just skim it off.

Pour hot jelly mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Add your canning lids and screw bands. Process according to chart below.

What no lemon juice? Most jelly and jam will need a bit of acidity added to create a nice gel. Crabapples must be high enough in pectin that this combination of sugar and fruit juice gels up nicely without it. (this is a tested recipe so it is also safe with out the lemon juice.)

You have two choices of processing methods.

Water bath canning or Steam Canning.

However you decide to process your jars use the times indicated below.

I include instruction on the water bath method in the recipe card. But just use the same times if you decide on the steam canner.

Pinnable Recipe Card

Crabapple Jelly

Learn how to make crabapple jelly and make use of those tart little fruits, while enjoying a delicious finished product.
Print Recipe
Two jars of clear, bright red crabapple jelly.
Prep Time:2 hours
Processing Pints (adjust for altitude):10 minutes
Total Time:2 hours 10 minutes


  • 3 pounds Crabapples
  • 3 cups Water
  • 4 cups Sugar


For Juice

  • Wash crabapples, removing stems. 
  • Place in pot. 
  • Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. 
  • Lower heat and simmer approximately 20–30 minutes. 
  • Strain mixture through a double layer of cheesecloth. 

For Jelly 

  • Start by preparing jars and getting water in the canner heating.You want the canner hot, but not boiling, when the jars are ready to be processed.
    See full water bath canning instructions here.  
  • Measure 4 cups of crabapple juice. 
  • Stir in sugar and bring to a boil over high heat until it reaches your gelling point. 
  • Skim foam. 
  • Put hot jelly into hot jar, leaving 1/4” headspace. 
  • Remove air bubbles, wipe rim clean, and place seal and ring. 
  • Place jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars. 
  • Process according to directions below. 


Processing with a Water Bath Canner
Place the jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars placing them in the canner.
When all the jars are filled, bring the water in the canner to a boil.  When a boil is reached that is when you’ll start your timing.   Process for the length of time on the chart below.  Adjust for your altitude. 
 After your time is over, turn the heat off remove the lid and allow the canner to rest for about 5 minutes. Then bring your jars up out of the water.  Allow them to rest for another 5 minutes. Then remove the jars and place them a few inches apart on a thick towel to cool completely.  Leave them alone for about 12 hours.  
When they are cooled remove the metal bands, check the seals, label the jars and store them away! 
Processing Time for Half Pints and Pints in Water Bath (Hot Pack)
  • 0-6,000 ft – 10 minutes
  • Above 6,000 ft – 15 minutes
Source: The National Center for Home Food Preservation
Servings: 5 -6 half pints

Crabapple Jelly Tips & FAQs

What are Crabapples?

Crabapples are a little different than traditional apples. They are very tart and can come in different colors; some may be red when ripe, but many are not. Even when they get ripe, they can stay pretty hard. If you are not sure if your crabapples are ripe, cut them in half. If the seeds are brown, the crabapples should be ripe. 

Do You Have to Use All of the Sugar for Crabapple Jelly?

I made a full-sugar crabapple jelly. The apples are sour and really do benefit from the sweetness. 

Should You Make Jelly with Fresh or Frozen Crabapples

You can use freshly picked crabapples or frozen crabapples. 

How to Make Clear Jelly

Remember, jelly is usually a clear product. When you are straining your apples, don’t squeeze the cheesecloth or you’ll end up with pulp in the juice, which makes your jelly cloudy. It is HARD to not squeeze. I always have to resist the temptation. And quite often I fail and end up pressing the mixture just a tiny bit.

A Note on Processing Time

The original directions for this recipe list a 5-minute processing time for 0–1,000 feet altitude. If you choose the 5-minute processing time, be sure and sterilize your jars first. If you go for 10 minutes of processing, however, you just need clean, hot jars. No sterilizing needed. 

What Does Crab apple Jelly Taste Like?

Sooo good! It is sweet because of all the sugar, and a bit tart because crabapples are a very tart apple. Like squeeze your cheeks tart if you take a bit of a fresh crabapple.

Can I Freeze homemade Crabapple Jelly?

Yes, if you want to make this and not do the processing step just fill your jars leaving a little more headspace to allow for expansion. Allow them to cool a bit on the counter and put in the freezer. You also could use plastic freezer containers instead of jars. I don’t like to freeze jars. You can… it is safe. But I always feel it risks getting banged and broken in the freezer.

If you want to you can also make a smaller batch and just store this for use in the refrigerator.

Related Pages

Jam or Jelly is a great first step to canning. Recipes here!

Canning Apple Butter Recipe: A Delicious Way Get Started – Learn how to make apple butter in a Crockpot to save time spent in the kitchen.

Clear Jel is the go-to for thickeners. Ditch the flour and cornstarch! Clear Jel vs. flour or corn starch as a thickener is a no brainer. Once you see the results, you’ll be as hooked as we are at Learn about this great product and get canning!

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Crabapple Jelly

Source: The National Center for Home Food Preservation

Page last updated: 6/28/2021

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1 year ago

We have quite an abundance of crabapples and have been looking for a good recipe thank you so much.

1 year ago

Sharon, this is a great base for red jalapeno jelly or for Red Zinger jelly. The tea has been discontinued but you can add anise hyssop, hoja santa, or a mixture, along with lemon verbena. Lemon balm and lemon grass do not work well in this.