Spiced Crab Apples
This is a spicy pickle and a great recipe to use when you have a glut of crab apples…like we had this year. There is relatively no prep work other than pricking and washing the apples and the finished product can be enjoyed on its’ own, with cheese, or even with a bit of good Vanilla ice-cream (we like Kawarthas Vanilla ice-cream) However, we did have to play around a bit with the processing part because upon entering the boiling hot water bath the apples would burst and split at the seams. Sometimes the look can be as important as the taste…we considered them RUINED.
Thankfully, there was an abundance of these beautiful, bright red, tart little guys. So, we were able to revisit a few trees several times. And, we still left lots for the birds. You’ve got to CAN what you can, when you can!
RECIPE FOR SPICED CRAB APPLES (from Fruits of the Earth):
- 2 pounds crab apples (do not use bruised fruit and if crab apples are not available you can substitute another variety but you will have to chop and core them)
- 2 1/4 cups cider or wine vinegar
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 9 cloves
- 1 scant tsp allspice
- 3 cups warmed sugar (just heat it slightly in the microwave before adding…this prevents the liquid from cooling)
- Prick the apple skins with a darning needle or fork. (We found that this works well if you are following the recipe below but it will not prevent the skins from bursting in the hot water bath…tried it twice)
- Pour the vinegar into a stainless steel pan, add the spices and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the apples and simmer until they are tender but still hold their shape. Here it is very important to keep a close eye on your apples…it is very easy to over cook them which will cause them to burst and/or turn to mush. Lift them carefully out of the vinegar, using a slotted spoon, and pack them into hot, sterilized jars. We sterilize our jars in the oven at 250F for 20 minutes where they remain until they are ready to be filled.
- Add the warmed sugar to the vinegar and stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved, then turn up the heat and boil steadily until the vinegar has reduced by about a third and become syrupy. It is important to move as quickly as possible…be sure to warm your sugar to that your packed crab apples don’t spend too much time cooling in the jars.
- Pour the hot syrup over the apples so that it completely covers them and seal the jars. The jars should seal themselves but if they do not refrigerate.
- Check seals, label, and store in a cool, dark place for 6 to 12 months.
We tried making these several times. The first two batches were processed in a boiling hot water bath for 10 minutes. The crab apples burst leaving us with a very unpleasant looking finished product….even when we were extra careful to add more holes in the fruit to allow the air to escape.
In the end, we put the apples in the hot sterilized jars and filled them with boiling liquid and placed our clean, boiled, sterilized lids on…because they are super hot the jars seal themselves. We have used this method for other preserves, that have a high sugar and vinegar content, with great success. But, you will have to decide how you wish to process/seal/preserve these little beauties!
Put up Total:
- Batch 1: 6 x 1L and 1 x 250mL…burst
- Batch 2: not recorded…thrown out
- Batch 3: 4 x 1L