The distinctive tart flavour of crabapples can be captured in apple juice, sauce, pie, butter, jam or jelly for year round enjoyment.
Crabapple trees can be found in many prairie gardens and shelterbelts and are often left unpicked. Why not offer to pick and process some of the fruit for the owner in exchange for fruit for yourself. It can be great fun for the kids to get up into the trees and pick. For processing, if one child washes, and the others cut (and core if making pies) the task becomes a time of munching, chatter and dreams of wonderful tasting food to come.
Crabapple jelly seems to be the most often made product but sometimes with the highest degree of failure. The reason is that not all crabapples are created equally. Some are high in pectin, which is what is necessary for the jelly to set. They are therefore better jelly makers. The varieties recommended for jelly making are Dolgo, Dawn, Kerr, Rescue and Dosman. Of these the Dolgo is the pick. If you are not sure of the variety that you have there is a simple test to see if the juice is high in pectin.
Use firm crabapples, about one quarter of them should be under ripe, 3/4 ripe. Wash crabapples. Remove blossom and stem ends and quarter the crabapples. Do not peel or core. Add only enough water to the fruit so that it is barely covered, approximately 28 cups (7 L) fruit to 16 cups (4 L) water. Bring to a boil and cook 20 to 30 minutes until apples are soft. Crush crabapples with potato masher during the cooking process to reduce cooking time. Pour cooked fruit into a moistened jelly bag. Hang over a bowl until dripping ceases (about 12 hours). Squeezing the jelly bag will make the juice and jelly cloudy but will increase the quantity of juice.
Measure juice, label and store in a jar in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or freeze in plastic cartons, allowing 1 in (2.5 cm) headspace. To can crabapple juice, heat to boiling point, pour into sterilized jars leaving 1/2 in (1 cm) of headspace, and add 1/4 tsp (1 mL) ascorbic acid per 1 quart, seal and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Pectin Test for Jelly Making
Warning: Rubbing alcohol is used to test for pectin. Rubbing Alcohol is a poison. Immediately after observing the pectin test pour the sample down the drain and wash the dish. Do not taste this mixture, and DO NOT mix with the juice in the kettle.
- Measure 8 cups (2 L) of juice into an uncovered kettle.
- Boil 3 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat.
- Measure 1 tsp (5 mL) rubbing alcohol and 1 tsp. (5 mL) juice onto a plate, and blend together.
- If there is a jelly-like mass or clot formed there is enough pectin to make a good jelly using 1 cup (250 mL) sugar to 1 cup (250 mL) juice.
- If a clot does not form, boil 3 more minutes and repeat the test, on a clean plate. If a clot forms, use 3 cups (750 mL) sugar to 4 cups (1 L) juice.
- If no clot forms, use commercial pectin or use the juice in a punch.
Before cooking the jelly, take the temperature of boiling water with a jelly, candy or deep-fat thermometer. Using the same thermometer, cook the jelly mixture to a temperature of 6° C (8° F) higher than the boiling point of water. Be sure to check the boiling point of water each time jelly is made.
Dip a cold metal spoon into the boiling fruit mixture. Raise the spoon above the steam and turn it so the mixture runs off the side of the spoon into the kettle. When 2 drops run together and drip into the kettle at the same time, the jelly stage has been reached. As soon as the jelly stage has been reached, take the jelly off the heat and skim.
Preparation of Crabapple Pulp
Measure crabapple pomace (pulp, skins, cores and seeds) from which the juice has been extracted, put it in a large preserving pot and add 1/2 cup (125 mL) water for ever 2 cups (500 mL) of pomace. Stir until water is well mixed through the pulp. Bring to a boil and boil the mixture 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the mixture often to prevent sticking. Press the pulp through a food mill in order to separate the pulp from the skins, cores and seeds. The crabapple pulp can be used in sauce, butter or catsup. The pulp may be kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in a freezer for several months. The pulp may also be canned by placing the hot pulp in sterilized pint (500 mL) jars leaving 1/2 in (1 cm) headspace and processing in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. To reduce discoloration add 1/8 teaspoon (.5 mL) of ascorbic acid to each pint (500 mL) before sealing.
Crabapple Juice Drink
|5 cups||crabapple juice||1250 mL|
|1 cup||sugar||250 mL|
Mix juice and sugar in a broad stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Pour into hot sterilized jars leaving 1/2 in (1 cm) headspace. Process quarts 15 minutes, pints 10 minutes in a boiling water bath, or put into freezer containers leaving 1 in (2.5 cm) headspace and freeze.
|1 quart||crabapple juice drink||1 L|
|1 quart||gingerale||1 L|
|1 quart||cranberry juice (optional)||1 L|
Mix chilled ingredients in a punch bowl. Add ice cubes and serve.
|4 cups||crabapple juice||1 L|
|4 cups||sugar||1 L|
Mix ingredients together in a large broad saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, or until the consistency of syrup. Stir constantly. Remove from heat, skim and pour into sterilized pint (500 mL) jars leaving 1/2 in (1 cm) headspace. Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Yield approximately 2 pint (500 mL) jars.
|8 cups||crabapple juice||2 L|
|8 cups||sugar||2 L|
Measure juice into a large broad saucepan; add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Boil over high heat until jelly stage is reached. Remove from heat, skim and pour into sterilized jars leaving 1/4 in (.5 cm) headspace. Seal. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. Yield: 4 pints. For spiced crabapple jelly, tie 3 sticks of cinnamon and 1 tsp (5 mL) of whole cloves and add to the crabapples along with the water when extracting the juice.
Crabapple Jelly with Liquid Pectin
|3 quarts||fully ripe crabapples||3 L|
|6 1/2 cups||water||1600 mL|
|2 tbsp||lemon juice||25 mL|
|7 1/2 cups||sugar||750 mL|
|1 pouch||liquid fruit pectin||1|
Remove blossom and stem ends from crabapples; cut in small pieces. Do not peel or core. Add 6 1/2 cups (1600 mL) water; bring to a boil and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Thoroughly crush, then simmer, covered, 5 minutes longer. Place in jelly cloth or bag and allow juice to drip through for a clear jelly. Squeeze out juice if you want more juice and don’t care whether it is cloudy. Measure 5 cups (1200 mL) into a large saucepan. Add lemon juice. Add sugar to juice in saucepan; mix well. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Immediately stir in liquid fruit pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim off foam with metal spoon. Pour quickly into warm sterilized jars. Seal while hot with 2 piece lids with new centres. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. Begin processing time when water returns to the boil.
Makes about 9 cups (2250 mL)
|10 cups||crabapple pulp||2.5 L|
|2 cups||sugar||500 mL|
Combine pulp and sugar. Bring to a boil. Fill sterilized pint (500 mL) jars leaving 1/2 in (1 cm) headspace. Seal. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Applesauce may be put into freezer container and frozen.
Pulp for sauce may be obtained by putting cooked crabapples through a food mill or by using the pomace (pulp, skins, cores and seeds) from which the juice has been extracted.
Place the pomace in a large stainless steel pot and add 1/2 cup (125 mL) water for every 2 cups (500 mL) of pomace. Stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Boil 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent pulp from scorching. Put boiled pulp through a food mill. Pulp is now ready to use in making butter or catsup.
|4 cups||crabapple pulp||1 L|
|2 cups||white sugar||500 mL|
|1 tsp||cinnamon||5 mL|
|1/2 tsp||allspice||2 ml|
|1/2 tsp||cloves||2 ml|
Mix pulp and sugar together in a large saucepan and stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil, stirring frequently until the mixture is the desired thickness. Drop a teaspoon of the butter on a cold saucer and let it stand for a minute. If the butter is moulded and there is no liquid surrounding it, the butter is ready. Pour into hot sterilized pint (500 mL) jars and seal. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Canned Whole Crabapples
|1 cup||sugar||250 mL|
|3 cups||water||750 mL|
Make syrup by boiling the sugar and water. Wash crabapples and remove blossom end. Prick each crabapple 3 or 4 times. Pack crabapples into hot sterilized quart (litre) jars. Cover with boiling syrup, leaving 1/2 in (1 cm) headspace. Adjust headspace. Wipe rim. Seal. Place in a boiling water bath and process for 20 minutes. Ten (10) cinnamon heart candies may be added to each jar.
|4 lbs||crabapples||2 kg|
|2 cups||white vinegar||500 mL|
|1 cup||water||250 mL|
|4 cups||sugar||1 L|
|20||cinnamon heart candies||20|
|(optional for colour)|
|1 tbsp||whole cloves||15 mL|
|10 inches||stick cinnamon||25 cm|
|1 tbsp||allspice||125 mL|
Tie spices in a cheesecloth bag and add to a syrup of vinegar, water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Wash and remove blossom end from unblemished crabapples. Prick each crabapple 3 or 4 times. Add fruit to syrup and simmer until crabapples are heated through, but not soft (5 to 10 minutes). Remove spice bag. Pack apples into hot sterilized pint (500 mL) jars. Cover with boiling syrup leaving 1/2 in (1 cm) headspace. Seal. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Freezing Crabapples for Pie, Crisps or Cobblers
Unpeeled crabapples can be used for pie. To reduce discolouration, prepare a solution of 1 tsp (5 mL) of ascorbic acid per 4 cups (1 L) of water. Drop unpeeled flesh from around the cores into the solution, soak for 15 minutes, drain, package, seal, label and freeze immediately. Fruit may be frozen in a flattened shape to fit into an unbaked pie shell or cobbler dish. Before freezing, fit the plastic bag of prepared crabapples into the pie plate or dish, freeze, then remove plate or dish and store crabapples in freezer.
|2 1/2 cups||flour||625 mL|
|2 tsp||baking soda||10 mL|
|1 tsp||cinnamon||5 mL|
|1/4 tsp||cloves||1 mL|
|1 tsp||salt||5 mL|
|1 cup||oil||250 mL|
|1 1/2 cups||sugar||375 mL|
|1 tsp||vanilla||5 mL|
|3 cups||finely chopped crabapples*||750 mL|
|1 cup||chopped nuts (optional)||250 mL|
Stir flour, soda, salt and spices together. Combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in finely chopped crabapples. Blend in dry ingredients, one-third at a time. Stir in nuts. Pour into oiled and floured 13 x 9 in (23 x 34 cm) pan and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 50 – 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on rack for 10 minutes and remove from pan. Cool completely and frost.
*Cut unpeeled flesh from the crabapples and chop finely.
See Food Preservation, Jams and Jellies on this site for complete information on procedure.
SOURCES: The recipes in this section were collected and tested by Betty Burwell while operating the Food Pro LINE for Food Focus Saskatoon, Inc. Information was also excerpted from an article by Betty Ann Deobald of TEAM Resources.