Crab apples look so sweet and innocent, like miniature apples, but take a bite and you’ll probably spit it out. Take heart, they might be sour but they have their uses.
I’m not sure of the difference between a wild apple and a crab apple, but for cooking I don’t think it matters. Around the farm we have wild apple trees bearing fruits that range in size from marbles to a small cultivated apple, with skins that ripen to shades of green, yellow and orange. But no matter what colour the skin, the flesh within puckers my mouth and makes me screw up my eyes. I don’t know if these trees have sprung from discarded pips or were deliberately planted, but their proliferation around Lakes Field suggests that there may have been some sort of settlement there in ancient days. Who knows?
Most years, I make Spiced Crab Apples from Edible Wild Plants & Herbs by Pamela Michael, cooking the crab apples in vinegar, sugar and spices, which are left to mature for three months so that the spicy syrup is absorbed by the fruit giving a mouthful of almost candied fruit. Every couple of years, I also make a small batch of Crab Apple Pectin using Celia’s recipe, which I freeze and then use to make jam the following year.
For more ways to use crab apples read Take 3kg of Crab Apples or follow the links below.