These days crabapples are generally only used as ornamental trees or occasionally for ensuring good pollination in orchards. However there are a couple culinary uses for the bunches of little fruit that the tree bears. Assuming the fruit is large enough to use. Pickling them is one of my favorites, not only does it make a rather delectable spicy/sweet/tart morsel it also preserves the sublime beauty of the fruit.
The hardest part of this otherwise simple recipe, other than finding a suitable wild crabapple tree (or sucking up your pride and asking the neighbor down the street if you can pick from his supposedly ornamental yard tree), is determining just how long to cook the little buggers. Apples can either turn to mush at the first sign of cooking or, for those with a stronger constitution, can hold up for long periods without loosing their composition. It just depends on the inherent characteristic of the particular type of apple. So it is best, if you are unfamiliar with the specific crabapple, to test a hand full first just to see how long it is going to take to cook them to the soft, but not falling apart consistency you want.
- 2 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups of water
- 28 oz. sugar
- 4 or 5 slices of fresh ginger root
- 2 sticks of cinnamon
- 2 t. whole cloves
- 1 t. of whole allspice
- 2 1/2 lb. crabapples with stems attached.
- Wash crabapples and prick each one with a fork to prevent the skins from bursting while cooking.
- Add the vinegar, water, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and allspice berries to a large nonreactive pot. Over medium heat dissolve the sugar and bring the syrup to a boil.
- Add the crabapples and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until the crabapples are just tender, but not too soft.
- Using a slotted spoon remove the crabapples and pack them in sterilized jars.
- Boil the vinegar syrup for 5 minutes then pour over the crabs. Making sure to completely cover them.
- You can either put the jars in the fridge for up to a year or seal in a hot water bath canner (1/2 inch head space, process for 20 minutes).