We had tuna steaks for dinner the other evening and I noticed that the jar of crab apple jelly is getting dangerously near empty. Crab apple jelly can be used as a jam and spread on bread or toast but in our house it is generally used only to make a sauce to go with the tuna steaks. Once the steaks are cooked, a spoonful of c-a jelly is melted in the pan, then balsamic vinegar is added and mixed in. It can be used as a sauce with things other than tuna steaks but it does seem to go with them remarkably well.
In past years - but not last year - the Old Bat has made the jelly herself from crab apples I have collected. There are two or three trees in grass verges in streets around Patcham and nobody else seems at all bothered about picking the fruit, probably not being aware that it can be used. I have never bothered about the fruit being squashed or damaged as it makes no difference to the jelly and have just scooped up the apples off the pavement and verge. But not last year. Last year the apple tree in our garden - a Bramley's seedling - produced just two apples - and they both rotted on the tree. The crab apple trees produced no fruit whatsoever.
The lack of the fruit was a culinary disaster for this household. We learned from a farmer friend that there was no fruit on any other tree either. So what could we do? I scoured the shelves at various supermarkets but found no crab apple jelly on sale. The farm butcher we use didn't stock it. Oddly enough, the young man who served us had never heard of it. A lengthy search on the Internet showd that just one company in England makes it (there may be a few farm shops that sell their own) but it is not widely available in stores. We wanted a further supply and I ended up buying it from some obscure on-line pharmacy, paying well over the odds to have just one jar delivered. It is that jar which is now nearly empty.
This year, our apple tree was absolutley laden with good fruit - but once again there were no crab apples. I am once again reduced to scouring the Internet - except that the Old Bat has confessed. She could use red currant jelly instead to make the sauce. Or maybe I should buy a crab apple tree to plant in place of the Bramley that has blown down.