August 24, 2019 3:22 PM   Subscribe

My crabapple tree remembered it’s a fruit tree this year and made a bumper crop of small but flavorful crabapples. Some of them are bird food, some of them are dropping off, but what do I do with the rest?

I know about crabapple jelly, and a couple of years ago I made fantastic pepper jelly with some crabapples. What else can I do with them? I have canning, baking, beer brewing, pickling, etc. skills - give me some ideas please!
posted by centrifugal to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
Best answer: You can make an applesauce. You can blend with regular apples to taste, too.
posted by kerf at 3:30 PM on August 24, 2019

Best answer: SHRUB

Take one part fruit and smash/macerate with one part sugar by volume. Add in 0.5-2 parts vinegar, mix and cover loosely with cheesecloth or similar. Store at room temp, stirring 1-3 times a day for 2-5 days. At that point you should have pulpy syrup. Strain into bottles, should be shelf stable for 1-2 years depending on acid content.

Serve with seltzer water and ice for old timey soda, drizzle on ice cream or pancakes, use any place syrups are called for. It’s a great way to use and preserve large quantities of fruit for relatively little effort; lack of heat means you keep a lot more vitamin content compared to jellies and jams.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:23 PM on August 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hard cider, yo -- though 100% crabapple cider can be rough. Try using it as a small portion of a large met amount of plain cider.

Like, I will make a one-gallon batch and add just a portion (several ounces?) of crabapple juice to the jug of Whole Foods organic juice.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:43 PM on August 24, 2019

If you live someplace where you can expect a good hard deep freeze you can make applejack, which is basically freeze-distilled apple liquor.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:15 PM on August 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is not quite what you asked for, but if I had crabapples I would donate them to an animal rescue org, where there are bears or other creatures that like apples.
posted by zdravo at 8:17 PM on August 24, 2019

Best answer: I made fruit leather with crabapples one year, some with sugar and some without. Both batches were tart but very tasty.
posted by traveler_ at 8:43 PM on August 24, 2019

+1 applesauce
posted by salvia at 9:03 PM on August 24, 2019

Best answer: I make crab apple jelly with mine. It is sweet but with a slight tartness as an under-taste that I like. Be careful with the recipe quantities and boil times if you want it to set properly.
posted by rongorongo at 2:25 AM on August 25, 2019

And for the future - pome trees that alternate a really heavy crop with a year or more of barely any crop are common. If you thin the heavy crops you will probably get bigger, sweeter fruit that year, and the tree will have the energy to fruit again sooner.

Thinning might be too much hassle for crabapples, or trees that have outgrown pruning. But when it works it’s a big difference.
posted by clew at 11:16 AM on August 25, 2019

Best answer: When we had a crab apple tree, we found the recipe for apples and onions from the little house on the prairie books and it was excellent! I can’t find the official recipe but you could search “apples onions almanzo”
posted by Tandem Affinity at 1:21 PM on August 25, 2019

Best answer: I make crabapplesauce and then use it in baking. Crabapple muffins are amazing.
posted by metasarah at 6:46 AM on August 26, 2019

Response by poster: Fabulous answers! I probably have enough to make all these things (except applejack, I don’t think it gets cold enough here) and share some more with my neighbor and any passing bears in need. The first thing I made was a batch of these muffins, which get rave reviews from both me and my preschooler.
posted by centrifugal at 2:09 PM on August 29, 2019

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