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Where to find/buy Crabapples?

artofdescribing Sep 27, 2011 11:01 AM


Found a wonderful crabapple recipe that I wanted to try out. Does anyone know where there are any crabapple trees around Boston (particularly Somerville/Cambridge) or of any vendors at the farmer's markets that might sell some?


553 Palmer Ave, Falmouth, MA 02540

  1. greygarious Sep 28, 2011 10:04 AM

    I saw crabapples at Roche Bros. in Burlington yesterday.

    1. n
      nlg Sep 28, 2011 09:19 AM

      The location may be too far for you, but I bought some at Brooksby Farm in Peabody about a week ago. They made a nice crabapple-rose hip jelly. I didn't have the time to scout out a tree in my neighborhood. The Brooksby Farm crabapples were small, but much bigger than the ornamental varieties, and were a beautiful red color.

      1. c
        celeriac Sep 27, 2011 12:41 PM

        There are many types of crabapples, ranging from those that are relatively large and good for eating, to those that are extremely tart and tannic, better for jelly, to those that are ornamental (and sometimes tasty, though often too tiny and bitter to be of much use). What type of crabapples are you looking for? What is the intended purpose?

        The only ones I have specific knowledge of are from Keown Orchards, who sell at Copley and perhaps other markets, I'm not sure. They've had Chestnut Crabapples, which are amongst my very favorite for eating. Very sweet, crisp, aromatic and delicious. They are a bit bigger than a gold ball, golden and red with russeting.

        553 Palmer Ave, Falmouth, MA 02540

        4 Replies
        1. re: celeriac
          StriperGuy Sep 27, 2011 12:52 PM

          Most crabapple varieties were originally grown for making hard cider. The tart/tannic component complemented the sweet of other varieties. They were never meant for eating solo, but as you say are good for jelly, for cooking, and well for cider.

          1. re: celeriac
            artofdescribing Sep 27, 2011 02:12 PM

            That's good to know about Keown Orchards. I was hoping to make a crabapple jelly (possibly also a spiced syrup) with them.

            1. re: artofdescribing
              celeriac Sep 28, 2011 06:03 AM

              Hmm, unfortunately I don't know that the Chestnut Crab would be any good for those purposes, as it's more like a mini eating apple. But they had a few older apple varieties, so it's worth giving them a call to see what else they might have. If anyone happens to have any leads on local sources for crab varieties, especially those that are good for cider like Wickson, I'd be happy to hear as well.

              1. re: celeriac
                sunalso Sep 28, 2011 07:24 AM

                Derby Farm on Rt. 117 in Stow has crab apples. I couldn't tell you what variety they are, but they were a nice deep red color and just labeled crab apples. Maybe Stow is out of the way, but thought I'd mention it.

                p.s. They are my go-to place for cider, too (unpasturized), but they haven't started pressing yet, as of this past weekend.

          2. s
            stomachofsteel Sep 27, 2011 12:20 PM

            Russo's in Watertown has them, out in the outdoor area where they sell baskets of apples. I didn't catch the price.

            8 Replies
            1. re: stomachofsteel
              StriperGuy Sep 27, 2011 12:50 PM

              Are you sure those aren't "Lady Apples" a small, but not Crab variety?

              1. re: StriperGuy
                stomachofsteel Sep 27, 2011 01:32 PM

                I would not bet my life on it or anything, but I'm pretty sure the sign said crab apples.

                1. re: stomachofsteel
                  cpingenot Sep 29, 2011 01:20 PM

                  The sign DID say crab apples, but they were pretty large. Didn't try them to see if they were tart/ crabby.

                  If you PYO from ornamental trees don't be surprised if they're pretty wormy. My folks have two 100% organic apple trees, and unless you want to live the punchline of "what's worse than a worm in your apple" you have to carefully cut up the apple to make certain they're 100% vegetarian. For mid-sized apples that's not a problem, and they make a lot of applesauce so it doesn't matter if they end up in pieces. Organic crabapples would be a lot of work for potentially not a lot of reward.

                  1. re: cpingenot
                    StriperGuy Sep 29, 2011 05:42 PM

                    Crab apples don't get nearly as wormy... I think the tartness and tannins bum out the worms.

                    1. re: StriperGuy
                      Infomaniac Sep 30, 2011 08:09 AM

                      I have a few crab-apple trees in my yard, and I can not acquire a taste for them off the tree, and find them just aweful raw.
                      The three things I make with them are crab-apple jelly, crab-apple butter and a crab-apple chutney.
                      The apples on my tree can get loaded with worms if I don't care for the trees early in the season.

                      1. re: Infomaniac
                        StriperGuy Sep 30, 2011 05:40 PM

                        Must depend on the variety, cause I see SO many all over the place wild and semi wild, untouched by bugs.

                        1. re: StriperGuy
                          threedogs Sep 30, 2011 07:26 PM

                          Yeah, I agree - the ones near me have no bugs at all.

                2. re: StriperGuy
                  StriperGuy Sep 27, 2011 01:39 PM

                  Could be crab, they often sell those for cooking or jam.

              2. StriperGuy Sep 27, 2011 11:14 AM

                They grow all over the place as ornamentals. Just take a look around your neighborhood and if you see something that looks like a small apple, take a bite. They are literally everywhere.

                Also a lot of the Cambodian markets and Asian markets carry them some times. Cambodians eat them as a sort of snack with spicy salt to dip them in.

                8 Replies
                1. re: StriperGuy
                  threedogs Sep 28, 2011 06:42 AM

                  How would you identify by taste if they are crabapples? I've come across various apple trees in my walks - would love to know!

                  1. re: threedogs
                    StriperGuy Sep 28, 2011 07:23 AM

                    Take a look at Google images:


                    Most crab apples are tiny. The shape ranges from apple-like to more berry shaped.

                    The color is always very apple like shades of green, red, and yellow. There are dozens of varieties growing abandoned in the New England woods. Again originally planted as one of the apples in hard cider and also often as ornamentals as well.

                    There really isn't anything else out there that can be mistaken for them that I know of but check with an expert to be sure.

                    They are tart and tasty and good to just nibble on. Once you know what to look for you will start noticing them everywhere. Along the Charles river, by the side of the highway, in your neighborhood...

                    1. re: StriperGuy
                      threedogs Sep 28, 2011 07:30 AM

                      OK, now that certainly cleared up a misconception I've had nearly all my life! I always thought they were small, but not that small - and it means that the many trees on the same property (a business) that has two regular sized apple trees near me (which I'm trying to identify) - are crabapples. Been trying to figure out what these were (my dog goes crazy for what's been on the ground since the winter - but then again, she's a dog & she eats paper, too, lol).

                      This past winter (we moved here during the winter), I thought they were cherries, but after the new crop came in, I found out how hard they are - def not cherries. But I never suspected that crabapples could be this small! Thx for the info, StriperGuy!

                      1. re: threedogs
                        StriperGuy Sep 28, 2011 08:05 AM

                        Try one, this time of year they are tart and tasty just nibbled on.

                        1. re: StriperGuy
                          threedogs Sep 28, 2011 09:47 AM

                          Great (and simple) idea. I did try one last winter - some were still on the branches. It was delicious & I was surprised this summer to see that they weren't cherries. Now I just need to plan out my harvesting... um... method. (as in, should I ask first... or be bold & just gather on off-hours).

                          1. re: threedogs
                            StriperGuy Sep 28, 2011 09:57 AM

                            NONE is going to care if you pick crab apples, seriously.

                            1. re: StriperGuy
                              threedogs Sep 29, 2011 02:44 PM

                              I guess you're right, lol - I'd be saving them the joy of crabapples covering up half of their parking area. I did take a taste, btw - good, strong apple taste - tart & very tasty. These are tiny - about 1/2 or even 1/3 the size of a cherry. Will take quite a bit of picking, however, to get a worthwhile amt for jelly. Wish I still had a juicer - I'd try to make some hard cider! (maybe enough for a thimble..)

                              1. re: threedogs
                                StriperGuy Sep 29, 2011 05:42 PM

                                They vary greatly in size. Hmmmm, you got me thinking about running some through a juicer, I actually made hard cider, with a little wine yeast once. It was really good.

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