Crab Apples

The delicious Crab Apple.

Crab Apples

Crab Apples

I would like to qualify this statement. They are not delicious, if you eat them raw right off the tree. Rather, they will pucker your mouth and everything else that is pucker-able.

You need to do something with them, before they become delicious but more on that later.

Crab Apples are originally a wild apple,

though some have been domesticated and there are now about 700 varieties of them. Quite a few owe their existence strictly to the beautiful flowers they produce. They come in a multitude of size and color and are all edible.

The trick is to find them.

You just have to scout around or get some tips from people who know.

The ones that we found are about 1.5 inch in diameter and turn a dark red when ripe in mid to late October. They are of the Dolgo Crab Apple variety.

When we go out to pick them, it sometimes turns into a family outing, with everyone pitching in.

When I get them home,

Picking Crabapples

Picking Crabapples

I wash them, cut them in half, remove the stems, seeds and any blighted or rotten pieces. This is pretty tedious, but makes for a better product.

After that you boil them in water covering the fruit by about one inch, stirring constantly, until the mash is soft and thick.

The next step is to rub them through a colander to get rid of the skins.

Now you are ready to put it into a double layer cheesecloth bag and hang it over a bowl over night. In the morning, you will have this very beautiful pink juice.

You bring the juice to a boil again and add 70% sugar (for every 10cups of juice, add 7 cups of sugar), stirring continuously.

Do not let the sugar sit on the bottom of the pot, it will burn and ruin your jelly.

Boil for about 15 minutes and then fill it into sterilized mason jars and seal with sterilized lids. You now have jars full of beautiful, salmon colored jelly that tastes absolutely exquisite and will impress your family and friends.

The stuff left in your cheesecloth bag makes great applesauce.

Just bring it to a boil and stir in sugar to taste. Make sure you stir it well until the sugar has melted. You can eat it right away or freeze it.

A more exotic thing to do with it is to turn it into crab apple butter and here is how this is done:


  • 4 cups of crab apple sauce
  • 3 cups of brown sugar
  • Grated peel and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp of ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg


  • Combine the apple sauce with the spices and bring to a boil
  • Stir in the sugar until fully dissolved
  • Turn down the heat and simmer for about an hour or until the butter reaches a thick spreadable consistency, stirring frequently
  • To conserve, put into sterilized jars or freeze

This goes great with meat, as a desert topping or a sandwich spread and
makes for some very unusual Christmas presents.

As you scout around the countryside, looking for crab apples, you need to be dressed properly. Find some neat outdoor cloths at the store, here.


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