• When possible, preserve fresh, locally-grown crab apples for the best quality and nutritional value.
  • Know when fresh crabapples are available in your state with this seasonal food guide.

1. Selection

Jellies without Added Pectin

  • Select fresh, mature, firm crabapples. Do not use crabapples that show signs of decay or mold.
  • 3 lbs crabapples (1/4 underripe, 3/4 ripe) will yield 4 to 5 half-pint jars.

Jellies with Added Pectin

  • Refer to pectin manufacturer's instructions. 


If this is your first time making jams and jellies, or it has been awhile, it is recommended that you read Using Boiling Water CannersGeneral Canning Information, and General Jam and Jelly Information before beginning. 

2. Ingredients

  • 3 pounds crabapples +3 cups water (to make ~ 4 cups juice)
    • 1/4 underripe
    • 3/4 ripe
  • 4 cups sugar

3. Equipment

  • Water bath canner: Large covered pot (with a tight-fitting cover and a rack) that is deep enough to cover the rack and canning jars by 1 to 2 inches of boiling water. (At least 10 inches deep for pint jars, and 12 inches deep for quart jars.)
  • Canning jars: Use standard canning jars without cracks or chips (see recipe for sizes)
  • Lids and bands:
    • Lids must be new to ensure a proper seal but bands can be reused if they are in good shape.
  • Large, flat-bottomed pot (deep enough to allow jelly mixture to come to full rolling boil without boiling over)
  • Medium cooking pot with lid for having extra boiling water on hand (optional)
  • Jelly bag, cheesecloth or fruit press (for extracting juice)
  • Jelly, candy or deep-fat thermometer (to help determine doneness)
  • Long-handled spoon
  • Ladle
  • Colander 
  • Wide-mouth funnel
  • Jar lifter for removing hot jars from the canner
  • Lid wand (magnetic tool used to transfer lids to jars)
  • Ruler for measuring headspace (some bubble freers include this feature)
  • Towels or wire rack for cooling jars
  • Paper towels
  • Hot pads
  • Cutting board
  • Food thermometer for measuing temperature of processing water 
  • Knives
  • Timer or clock

4. Prepare Canning Equipment

Prepare canner:
  • Place rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner.
  • Fill the canner approximately half full with clean warm water for a canner load of pint jars. (For other sizes and numbers of jars, you will need to adjust the amount of water so it will be 1 to 2 inches over the top of the filled jars.)
  • Center the canner over the burner and bring to a boil.
    • Use this water to sterilize jars if required for your elevation (see below).
  • Be careful not to let too much water evaporate prior to filling the jars--you will need enough to cover the filled jars by 1-2 inches.
  • (Optional) Boil some extra water in a covered medium cooking pot in case more is needed to cover jars.
Prepare jars and lids:



  • Wash jars with hot soapy water and rinse.
  • Refer to the Water Bath Processing Time table below to determine if sterilization is necessary.
    • If processing time for your elevation is 10 minutes or greater jars do not need to be sterilized prior to filling and processing.
    • If processing time for your elevation is less than 10 minutes, sterilize jars by placing right side up on the rack in a boiling water bath canner.
      • Boil 10 minutes plus 1 minute per 1,000 feet above sea level.
      • Keep jars in hot water (180 degrees F) until jars are ready to be filled.


  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for preparing lids and rings.

5. Prepare Ingredients

For preparing jellies with added pectin, follow instructions and recipes provided by the manufacturer.

Prepare Juice- 

  • Sort, wash and remove stems and blossom ends. Do not pare or core.
  • Cut crabapples into small pieces.
  • In a cooking pot, add crabapples and 3 cups water. Cover and bring to boil on high heat.
  • Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes, or until crabapples are soft.
    • Do not overcook; excess boiling will destroy the pectin, flavor and color.

Extract Juice-

  • Pour cooked fruit mixture into a damp jelly bag and suspend the bag to strain the juice.
    • NOTE: The clearest jelly comes from juice that has dripped through a jelly bag without pressing or squeezing.

Make Jelly-

  • Measure 4 cups crabapple juice into a cooking pot.
  • Add sugar and stir well.
  • Boil over high heat, stirring constantly, until done. (See below for ways to determine doneness

Test for doneness with any of the following methods-

Temperature Test:

  • Take the temperature of the jelly with a thermometer.
  • Jelly should reach 8 degrees F above the boiling point at your elevation. (See table below)
 Temperature Doneness Test
 Elevation  Temperature
Sea Level 220º F
1,000 ft 218º F
2,000 ft 216º F
3,000 ft 214º F
4,000 ft 212º F
5,000 ft 211º F
6,000 ft 209º F
7,000 ft 207º F
8,000 ft 205º F
9,000 ft 203º F
10,000 ft 201º F


NOTE: During the following tests, the jelly mixture should be taken off heat-

Spoon Sheet Test:

  • Dip a cool metal spoon into boiling jelly.
  • Lift out a spoonful of the mixture (moving the spoon away from steam.)
  • Tip the spoon over a dish so the juice will drop off.
    • After continued cooking the drops will be larger and will drop off the spoon in a sheet or a flake.
    • The gelling point is reached when the jelly sheets off the spoon.

Refrigerator Freezer Test:

  • Pour a small amount of boiling jelly on a plate.
  • Place the plate in the freezer for a few minutes.
    • If the mixture gels it should be done.

6. Fill Jars

  • Remove jelly mixture from heat and skim off foam quickly.
  • Using a ladle and wide-mouth funnel, fill sterile jars with hot jelly.
  • Leave 1/4-inch headspace.
  • Wipe rim with clean, wet paper towel.
  • Place lid on jar and add screw band. Screw the band down fingertip tight- not too loose nor too tight. Follow lid manufacturer's directions for tightening the jar lids properly.

7. Process Jars

  • Load filled jars (fitted with lids and ring bands) into the canner one at a time using a jar lifter or if you have a wire rack that has handles to hold it on the canner sides above the water, you can load the jars into the rack in the raised position and then use the handles to lower the rack with jars into the water.
    • When moving jars with a jar lifter, make sure the jar lifter is securely positioned below the neck of the jar (below the ring band of the lid).
    • Keep the jar upright at all times. Tilting the jar could cause jelly to spill into the sealing area of the lid.
  • Add more boiling water, if needed, so the water level is at least 1-2 inches above the jar tops. Pour the water around the jars and not directly onto them.
  • Turn the heat setting to its highest position, cover the canner with its lid and heat until the water boils vigorously.
  • Once the water is boiling, set a timer for the total minutes required for processing the jelly. Refer to the table below for processing times for your elevation and jar size.
  • Keep the canner covered for the process time. The heat setting may be lowered as long as a gentle but complete boil is maintained for the entire process time.
  • Add more boiling water during the process, if needed, to keep the water level above the jar tops. Pour the water around the jars and not directly onto them.
  • When the jars have been processed in boiling water for the recommended time, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. 
  • Using a jar lifter, remove the jars one at a time, being careful not to tilt the jars.
    • Carefully place jars onto a towel or cooling rack, leaving at least one inch of space between the jars during cooling. Avoid placing the jars on a cold surface or in a cold draft.
  • Let the jars sit undisturbed while they cool for 12 hours or overnight.
    • Do not tighten ring bands on the lids.
    • Do not push down on the center of the flat metal lid.
  • After 12 hours of cooling, remove ring bands and test seals:
    • Seals can be tested by pressing the middle of the lid with a finger. If lid springs up when finger is released, the lid is not sealed.
    • Seals can also be tested by holding the jar at eye level and looking to see if the lid is concave (curved slightly down in the middle). If the lid is concave, the jar is sealed.
    • Refrigerate any jars that did not seal and use within 1 month.
  • Ring bands should be cleaned, dried thoroughly, and stored for future use.

8. Store

  • With a clean, wet cloth or paper towel, wipe jars and lids to remove any residues.
  • Store jars without ring bands.
  • Label with name, date and processing method.
  • Store in a cool, dark place, where there is no danger of freezing.
  • Stored properly, canned jams and jellies should retain their quality for about 1 year.

Not sure of your elevation? Click here

Boiling water bath processing times (hot pack)-Half Pints or Pints
0-1,000 ft 1,001-6,000 ft 6,001-10,000 ft
5 minutes 10 minutes 15 minutes