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Recipe for crab apple jelly with star anise

Makes five ½-pint jars

You need five ½-pint canning jars. Sterilize them by rinsing with boiling water. Sterilize the lids and rings, ladle, and any other equipment that will touch the jam. You will also need a large stock pot, cheesecloth or a jelly bag, a candy/jam thermometer, a canning rack, and a jar lifter.

3pounds whole unblemished crab apples, stems removed
4whole star anise
4cups sugar

1. Fill the stock pot with water and bring it to a boil.

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2. Line a large colander with a double thickness of damp cheesecloth and set in a large bowl, or suspend a jelly bag over large bowl.

3. In a large saucepan, cover the crab apples with water. Add the star anise. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 30 minutes or until the crab apples are very soft.

4. Pour crab apples and liquid through cheesecloth or jelly bag. Allow to drain for at least 30 minutes to collect all juices, but do not press down on pulp or the jelly will be cloudy. There should be 4 cups.

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5. In a large saucepan, combine sugar and the crab apple juices. Bring to a boil. Boil until a candy/jam thermometer reaches 220 degrees.

6. Pour the mixture into hot, sterilized jars, wiping down jar rims with a damp paper towel. Place lids onto jars and screw on bands, and place the jars in the canning rack. Lower the rack into the boiling water, making sure the jars are covered by 1 to 2 inches of water. Bring the water back to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot. Boil the jars for 10 minutes.

8. With the jar lifter, remove the jars from the pot. Place them on a clean kitchen towel on a heatproof surface. Let stand for 12 to 24 hours or until completely cool.

9. Test the seal by removing the band and pressing down the center of the lid with your finger; it should not move. Replace band, screw on tightly, label with date, and use within 1 year. If the lid springs back, the jar has not sealed. Store in the refrigerator and eat within 2 weeks. Kathleen Weldon

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