It’s been a great season for apples here in the Bay State. It’s also been a great season for crabapples. If you are not familiar with this wild child of the Malus species check out this great PDF from Ohio State University. http://plantfacts.osu.edu/pdf/0247-721.pdf Yes, you can occasionally find these tart little apples in specialty markets, but for a true DIYet experience I recommend scanning your local landscape for a tree from which you can forage. You know the foraging rules, right? Make sure you have identified the tree correctly, and that you are not trespassing…yeah, you get it.
There are a number of accessible crabapple trees in my area. There is only one tree that I forage from, however, as the rest are encircled by vast groves of poison ivy. Just one more thing you should consider when foraging.
So what can you do with your found crabapples? Anything you would do with apples which requires cooking. Crabapples tend to be dry and quite “astringent” (the nice word for “bitter”) off the tree. When cooked they are far more complex than any cultured apple I’ve ever tried and the bitterness is reduced dramatically.
I decided to try making crabapple butter. I’ve been pondering the possibility of making my own apple butter for a while, but the initial input of apples is fairly high- 6-8 pounds depending on the recipe- and money is tight in our house. Yes, apples are all of 99¢ per pound this time of year, cheaper if you know where to shop. I’m a cheapskate, though. Crabapples only cost me my time. It was an easy decision. Here is the recipe I used. http://www.simplycanning.com/canning-apple-butter.html And here is what happened:
The crabapple butter is delicious-not too sweet, pleasantly bitter, and just spicy enough. Honestly, the yield was not sufficient enough to warrant digging out the canning equipment. I put the final product into plastic storage containers, kept one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. Not bad for essentially free food, I’d say.