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Does anyone still eat crabapples?

I have a Brandywine tree in my yard that has, for the first time ever, started producing crabapples. Now what to do with them? I remember my grandmother always serving them with Sunday dinner - I think they were jellied? I can't remember how they tasted, but they sure were pretty! And there's a barbecue restaurant in Oneonta NY that puts a slice on each plate as a garnish.

How would you use these adorable little guys?

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  1. OH MAN! I love crabapples!!
    I love them fresh....they are also great in pies.
    Also, I don't have a recipe for it, but canned spiced crabapples are deelish..bright red in color, flavored with cinnamon, cloves, etc....

    5 Replies
    1. re: HannahBanana

      All I remember is finding them once in my grandparents fridge and thinking I was going to die after tasting them. Probably just not what I expected, but I still have that horrible memory.

      1. re: HannahBanana

        Fresh? Really? For some reason eating them as is never occured to me. LOL! I think it's the canned spiced ones I remember from my Grandmother's table. They were gorgeous!

        1. re: Catskillgirl

          Seriously, I can't imagine eating a fresh crabapple. I’ve read there are a few that aren’t tart, but I haven’t found them yet … lady apples are a different thing and are edible fresh.

          Just a nice general article about a few crabapple varieties

          The one thing I remember about the crabapple tree in our backyard when I was growing up is that they are prolific ... very, very, very prolific.

          My mom made jelly and canned spiced crabapples before finally giving up when the tree started producing more than could be used by a small country.

          When I see them, I'll pick them up strictly as garnish. They are pretty with parsley arranged around the Thanksgiving turkey.

          Given how abundant the crabapples can be, here's some interesting ideas...

          Crab-apple tarte tatin ... with a stunning photo,,, so, so pretty

          Cinnamon Custard French Toast topped with Crabapple Puree

          Crabapple Bread

          Crabapple Crumble

          Milosoupa: Chilled Crabapple Soup with Curry

          Cranberry Crab Apple Chutney

          Crab Apple Pickles with Star Anise, Cassia and Ginger



          Mahi Mahi and steamed whole crabapples smothered in cherry brandy butter

          Maple syrup and Meaux Mustard Beef Fillet with Braised Fennel and Crab Apple ... just shoot me if I ever decide to try this ... waaay too complicated ... and it only uses 4 crab apples.


          Crabapple Juice Drink

          Crab Apple Brandy


          Crabapple Liqueur

          Crab-apple and crab-pear gin

          There are many variations of crabapple jelly out there on the web ... crabapple hot pepper jelly, Blackberry Crab-Apple Jelly, Crab Apple and Geranium Jelly (my grandmother made this), Crabapple Rosemary Jelly

          This seemed interesting

          Crabapple and Pomegranate Jelly with Rosebuds

          You can use the jelly as a meat glaze

          Hmmm ... now I am craving crabapples.

          Ok, this is the horror recipe I came across … suggested as perfect with chili … Here’s the ingredients … who knows … it might be so bad it is good … but I’ll let someone else give it a try.

          1 small jar of spiced crabapple rings
          1 20 oz. can of pineapple chunks.
          1 29 oz. can of peach halves (heavy syrup preferred
          )1 29 oz. can of pear halves (heavy syrup preferred)
          1 6 oz. jar of red maraschino cherries
          1 6 oz. jar of green maraschino cherries
          crisp cold lettuce
          jalapeno pepper-jack cheese

          1. re: rworange

            "Crabapple and Pomegranate Jelly with Rosebuds"
            I had NO idea crabapples were so versatile! Thank you so very much for these really interesting recipes. I love the idea of making jiuce out of them as well.

            But I think I'll skip the chili dish altogether. LOL!

            Thanks for the many ideas you put in my head...

            1. re: rworange

              Rworange-- if you are looking to try a fantastic fresh crabapple-- the chestnut crabapple, mentioned at the end of the mankato article you link to at the beginning of your post-- is spectacular. they are ugly little things, even sometimes rough-skinned, but they are sweet and spicy and spectacular, one of my faves. i don't know how widely they are available, but i always snap them up by the basket when they appear in my local farmer's markets (msp). they are really fun to eat-- sometimes i'll have 8 or so of the little miniature apple cores, picked down to the seeds and stems, in a bowl on the table in front of me before i know it! it's funny! if anyone sees these wee apples, i'd encourage you to try them.

        2. They're naturally high in pectin, so they make great jelly.

          2 Replies
          1. re: nemo

            Aha! Crab apple jelly sounds great - thanks!

            1. re: nemo

              We had a crabapple tree in our front yard for decades.

              Couldn't eat them fresh (way too tart!) but, oh, did they make the best jelly.

            2. Adding 10% by weight to hard cider if you don't have actual cider apples is great, they add acid and tannins.

              1 Reply
              1. re: rockfish42

                BINGO! You just can't make proper cider with all sweet apples. Gotta have some crabbies or at least some tart tamed varieties in the mix.

              2. Make "teafix"!

                (aka crabapple infused vodka)

                Take a 4 quart jar, pack it with rinsed crabapples (no need to core them), dump in a cup of sugar halfway through, another cup on top, then fill half full with vodka (I imagine white rum would work as well, though am not sure about gin - yuck!).

                Turn over every day, and let sit for a month. After a month, strain, pressing the last bit of vodka-y goodness out of the crabapples. Bottle. Throw out the crabapples (you could eat them, but I think that would result in a nasty hangover).

                My mom and her friends used to drink it in tea (hence 'teafix'), but I enjoy it over ice or mixed with club soda.

                This lasts for ages, and seems to get better over time. You can also do this with a variety of other fruits (if you can get hold of them, saskatoon teafix is divine); just adjust your sugar content along with the sweetnes off the fruit.

                5 Replies
                1. re: kali_MM

                  Oh my, this sounds so good! Thank you so much.

                  1. re: kali_MM

                    this does sound good, but just wondering about the method. I have done this with other fruits but they are usually fully covered in alcohol, if I read right yours are 1/2 covered? My question is this, does the fruit on top ever go bad on you, or does turning it over every day solve this? thanks

                    1. re: geminigirl

                      Turning it over every day solves this issue. The crabapples themselves release a lot of juice over time as well, so the liquid in the jar increases.

                    2. re: kali_MM

                      Sounds great!

                      Do you keep this out at room temp or in the fridge?

                    3. My grandmother has a crabapple orchard of sorts in a corner of her yard. Every fall her 13 children and 61 grandchildren rifle through the trees and get enough for everyones jelly and 74 cases of tummy aches from eating their fill fresh off the trees.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Goldendog

                        Tummy aches! That is the first thing I think of when I think about crabapples! We had a few trees in our yard in Indiana, and I could not resist eating them right off the tree. Love/hate kind of thing.

                      2. Oh wow! This takes me back. My family and I used to go to a restaurant that used crabapples for their garnish. I remember being scared of them. Thanks for the memory jog!

                        1. I forgot about crabapples. Wow, what a blast from the past. My grandmother also had a tree. I can remember rummaging through the apples looking for worms - ha. We used to toss them in the air and hit 'em w/ a baseball bat.

                          Occasionally we would eat them fresh but I never remember her cooking w/ them.

                          1. I love eating them fresh, they have such a great tart flavour. I will make the usual crabapple sauce from them, but my mother also peels, cores and slices them, then dries them out in the oven to make dried crabapple. They make a great addition to trail mix, and they are also great in scones with hazelnuts. Because they are so tart, they make a great change from many dried fruit that are too sweet.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: moh

                              Dried crabapples! Genius! Oh, and I bet I can convince our pastry chef to put them in some biscotti for me - he usually makes them with cranberries. Tangy goodness in each bite - sounds delicious.

                              Thanks so much for the great ideas!

                              1. re: moh

                                I just picked a handful and ate a few. They were sweet. look like a cherry, but taste like and apple. Just planted this tree in April and its loaded with these sweet little wonders.

                              2. I LOVE them, my mother always gave to us when we were young. For some reason when I talk to friends about them now they think they're yucky! I don't know why.,

                                1. I'm so glad to have stumbled upon this thread.

                                  A late frost last spring virtually eliminated our fruit tree crop for the year. This year, the trees all seem to be making up for lost time. On a recent hike, I found a crab apple tree heavily laden with fruit. I've been thinking about those crab apples ever since, and wondering when did they fall out of culinary fashion? Do crab apples go to waste every where?

                                  I will definitely be going back to pick those crab apples this weekend. I will be making crab apple jelly, crab apple liquor (as described by kall_MM, thank you!), and possibly some wine poached crab apples.