What do you do with crabapples?

Some might say they are so sour when they get ripe how can you tell the difference? As they ripen they drop some of the bitter aftertaste and just stay very sour. When they are just sour they are perfect for many different concoctions of pickling. My favorite is to eat with a sprinkle of salt. They are also good if you put them in the leftover dill pickle liquid for a few days. I must admit that crabapples are most likely palatable only to the people whose taste buds are to the extreme sour level. Just like the hard gritty pears I grew up eating the crabapples are good to me.
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I use them to make jelly. I use the jelly-juice to help other lower-pectin fruits, like Chokecherry or Elderberry, set a nice jelly without having to buy and add commercial pectin. I have found that 1/3 crabapple to 2/3 other fruit is usually enough to get a good jelly set while still letting the main fruit flavour shine through.

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Great idea. It has been a long time ago but I have tasted crabapple jelly which I assume takes a lot of additional sugar.

Yes, good idea. I don’t really add a lot of sugar, as little as possible, so having the pectin in crabapples helps. Sometimes with low pectin fruit I just use the calcium gelling agents like Pomona brand
I have a lot of elderberry, so maybe I will do a crabapple-elderberry jam. I have a volunteer tree in my yard, not sure what cultivar? Red colored skin, very good tasting too. Last year I mixed the crabapples with blackberries. The jam was excellent.

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Low or no sugar added sounds like a great idea especially for people with diabetic issues.

I have been able only to get to a 2 to 1 ratio of fruit (finished/processed ready to cook amount) to sugar, to get the low sugar pectin to gel. Less than suggested on the box. Any lower you can use Pomona pectin which requires only 1 cup sugar to 5 cups of fruit. Using substitutes like splenda is fine too.
The 2 to 1 ratio makes the fruit still sweet, but the flavor is there. My favorite ratio in jams and jellies. The sugar dilutes the flavor if too much. I use both gelling products depending on what fruit I’m using.
I have not made jam yet. I have been deciding which combos to make. So far where I’m at.
White currant-yellow cap black raspberry-white blackberry.
foraged Mulberry-foraged wild black raspberry
Pineberry preserves
White currant jelly
I have a lot of red currants, thinking boysenberry-red currant or tayberry or wyeberry.
Then I have gallons of blackberries too. All berries frozen for now. Oh elderberries too. Still harvesting them.
On the blackberries I separated them by cultivar. Flavors vary a lot,
Triple Crown, Navaho,wyeberry, tayberry, boysenberry, Chester, loch ness, Columbia star, newberry, marion, natchez, etc.
I have raspberries too many kinds to list, low production next year as I renew the beds. Lot’s of pruning going on!

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My sister makes a “killer” crabapple juice, she also makes it with rhubarb. The juice (with sugar added) is processed in quart sealers just like you would do fruit. When mixed with sprite or ginger ale it is the most refreshing drink.

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I just filled half a 5-gallon bucket this afternoon with crabapples and quartered, removed seeds, then ran them through the auger juicer. Will let the juice settle out for a couple of days and then drink or thicken into a cinnamon sauce.

These particular crab apples have an excellent flavor with only a hint of bitter.

Juice yield was over 80% of the whole fruit weight.

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Wow. That sounds like a keeper. How big were they? With that sort of yield and a hint of bitter I think some hard cider makers might be interested.

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Fruit size ranged from nickel to half-dollar diameter. This is a city park tree of unknown variety, the ground-dragging and broken branches will likely be pruned off and hauled away soon. Past couple of years the fruit has been sparse and too high to reach in this very old tree that is 20 feet tall and wider. By the time the fruit drops it is of low quality.

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Those are many good ways to use crabapples and with other fruit. I am getting close to the point of having enough various fruits to try some of these methods. Thanks Bill

Making crabapple juice would be unique. I think I would have to just call it apple juice initially to get my grands to try it. With a little sugar I would think it would really be good. Bill

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Just guessing but I would think if the tree was planted by the city it would be one of the crab varieties used for flowering and also had good fruit. Regardless of the variety it is good that they were put to a good use. Bill

Cider is a great use for crab apples! See this old link on extracting juice Good options for small-scale cider press?

Auburn (WDE, by the way!)
Are those native crabs - of the M.angustifolia/coronaria types? The flesh almost looks to have that dense, dry appearance so typical of them, and the skin sure looks like 'em.
If so, I’ve never done anything with them other than leave them for the wildlife to eat - but my dad loved them… he’d gather 10 gallons or so and keep 'em in buckets on the unheated back porch there at Auburn, and eat on them all winter., sprinkled with copious amounts of salt. He even had a ‘crab orchard’ of dozen or so seedlings/root sprouts that he’d collected from productive trees he encountered around East Alabama. I have a couple growing here in KY from his collection.

I just cooked down a gallon or so of juice last night - but mine was from a mix of Kerr (good eating!), Geneva & Giant Russian - the latter two are red-fleshed varieties not good for anything but jelly, as grown here. Will be making crabapple jelly - or, more likely, crabapple-hot pepper jelly. Mmmm.

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This crab is bigger than the typical native that I grew up with. Other than size and ripening earlier I can’t tell any difference between the two. These were not thinned and measured about 1.75" -2.00". Unfortunately I don’t know what variety it is. While visiting my sister near Auburn this winter I took a few scions of M. Augustifolia from their place and grafted them to an apple limb. And yes it is great to be an auburn tiger WDE. Bill

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Bill,
Some years ago, my dad took me to a friend’s house, up Hwy 147, on the way to Gold Hill, where there was a native crab with the largest apples I’ve ever seen on one… I swear, I remember them being well over 2"; I got scions of that tree, and a root sprout - have the root sprout and grafts growing here, but have never gotten that BIG fruit… they’re just ‘normal size’.

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As a kid I had similar experiences and I’m assuming that these were likely selected native crabs. All the others I would see in a more rural setting was much smaller. I remember going to one of my uncles house as a kid and we brought home a sprout from a large fruited crab that is still going strong at what is now my brothers house. I now have a few scions from this tree at my home. Glad you pointed this out and after giving this more thought they would almost have to be descended from the native crabs.

Yeah, but I wasn’t a kid… I’d have been in my 40s when Dad showed me that crab with the big fruits. Grafts from that specific tree and a root sucker produce well - but they’re the typical fruit of the species.

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I love some of my crab apples. Off the tree it is hard to beat a trailman crab. They will
watercore and taste like wine. Many years they crack, but they still remain good to
eat if you pick on regular basis. Of course I am in Alaska and only early apple
ripen in my area so many of the hardy excellent apples are not available.

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