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Spiced Crab Apples

August 25, 2010

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)
  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2011 7:04 pm

    This makes me wish I had a crab apple tree!

  2. Angie permalink
    January 11, 2011 10:30 pm

    Thank you for the great ideas on preserving these! My mom gave me all the crabapples we could pick and they have been in my freezer waiting on a recipe 🙂

  3. Annette permalink
    September 21, 2011 11:22 am

    Just made a batch of these yesterday, got 3 1L jars and didn’t do the water bath. sealed up like a charm. I love the sound of snapping lids.

    Is the “6-12 month” wait a ball park time frame cause I don’t think I can wait that long. Would 8 weeks be too early then?

    • September 21, 2011 4:38 pm

      Lots of things taste better the longer you can wait…but these little guys will be good to eat in a couple of weeks. The 6-12 months is a storage guidleine but like you said I’m sure they’re not going to last that long! Glad to hear they sealed up…one of my favorite sounds is the pop of a snap lid!

  4. Nerissa permalink
    September 12, 2012 3:44 pm

    I’m curious how you ended up eating them? Were they a treat you would pull out and plop in your mouth all by them selves? When I can I like to know how to use it or else I end up with a sort of grave yard a year later and I don’t know what to do with them. I appreciate the suggestions.

    • October 8, 2012 1:30 pm

      Straight out of the jar. They are also great as a topping on vanilla icecream.
      I would also highly recommend trying Gloria Nichols recipe for crab apple and vanilla curd…it is out of this world. And, you definitely would not end up with a grave yard of jars.

  5. Ilene permalink
    June 12, 2013 4:19 pm

    Those are really pretty.

    I won’t get on the soapbox re what I think about the new canning rules, suffice it to say that a BWB for pickles and preserves has ruined all my old family favorites to the point that I’ve gone back to the old ways.

    I’ve never eaten crabapples and I wonder if when you eat the preserved apples, do you have to spit out seeds?

    • July 6, 2013 5:26 pm

      Yes, some of the new rules can really change old family favourites.
      Honestly, I do not recall the seeds being an issue. It’s a great pressure to dress up vanilla ice cream or add something unique to a pork dinner.

  6. Earlene permalink
    August 30, 2013 12:01 pm

    My mother used to use them to dress up the turkey or ham or??? when she served them, she put them around the edges of the platter and us kids ate them…. real treat, u eat them to the core and throw away the insides…we always left the stem on good “handle” to hold the apple with

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