Foraging is one of my favorite things to do and learn about!
Honestly, how can you beat free and organic food? Perhaps it takes a little more effort, but that’s half the fun and satisfaction. Knowing that you found a food source that wasn’t in a grocery and that you didn’t plant is a great feeling.
Making something useful out of said findings is even more awesome!
Like many foraged foods over the years, Crab Apples have developed somewhat of a reputation as a nuisance. Surely, as the Industrial Revolution marched on and convenience foods became more the norm, fussing over a gnarly old fruit tree became passe.
Not anymore, baby.
With a difficult economy in our laps, more and more Americans are looking to the “ways of old” for answers and finding healthier foods and simpler lifestyles in spite of themselves.
We’ve got about 4 old and large Crab Apple trees on our property. The apples on two of the trees are larger than the others, generally Crab Apples are considered to be an apple less than 2″ in diameter. Crab apples also tend to be very sour and are best used for jams and jellies, although our kids eat them right off the “good” trees and love them!
Crab apples are very high in pectin and can be used to make pectin for your jams and jellies!
Working to get Apple Cider Vinegar going first, since it takes about a month to make, I used this recipe, given to me by Genny and Michele!
In conjunction with the ACV, I made Crab Apple Sauce using this recipe. I got the Morris kid’s seal of approval on it!
Crab Apple Sauce
9 cups of Crab Apple pieces (skins left on, blossom ends and cores removed)
3 cups water
2 cups sugar
1- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
Bring crab apples and water to a boil. Cook until apples soften then coarsely mash with a potato masher. Add sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Cook another 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Use an immersion blender to puree into a sauce. Continue cooking until desired consistency reached (if not thick enough for your tastes, add another cup or two of diced crab apples.)
Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/2″ headspace. Remove any air bubbles, wipe lids of jars. Center hot lids onto jars. Apply screwbands until fingertip tight.
Place jars in water bath canner ensuring that the water level is at least two inches above jar tops. Process jars for 20 minutes (Calgary altitude). Remove jars and set aside to cool.
Makes 9 half pint jars.
***Canning instructions here are not fully detailed. If not an experienced canner, refer to general canning safety rules regarding processing times, etc. Source
There’s so much you can do with Crab Apples, it’s a shame to let them rot and go to waste at the foot of the tree!
Here’s a plethora of recipes to try! I’m working on several this week myself. If you don’t have a Crab Apple tree on your property, ask around. You might be surprised to find that a friend or neighbor would welcome you over to pick or take the drops for free!
Urbanites might even find a Crab Apple tree within city limits, don’t be afraid to call and ask permission to pick up the drops or better yet, to pick.
Enjoy! Share your recipes for Crab Apples here in the comments or on our Facebook page!