26 March 2020

Spiced Crab Apples

Spiced Crab Apples - A Versatile Condiment, Pickle or Garnish / www.delightfulrepast.com

Spiced crab apples and spiced peaches, as well as pickled eggs and pickled onions, were things I grew up with. I never really thought about their origin, but given my mother's origins, I'm wondering if these foods are British. 

I had childhood friends whose mothers were from various parts of the world, but I never encountered any of these foods on their tables. Suppose I could Google it, but maybe one of you can tell me.

Crab apples are, I'm told, called such because of their size and not their cultivar. Crab apples are 2 inches or less in diameter, and the ones I used for this recipe, an organic heirloom variety, were way less than 2 inches in diameter.

Spiced Crab Apples - A Versatile Condiment, Pickle or Garnish / www.delightfulrepast.com


If you do canning, I'm sure you could do that with spiced crab apples. But my mother was not into canning for long-term shelf storage, so she made this kind which you can store in the refrigerator for up to a month. She served them with things like pork roast and turkey. 

This seems like a lot of bother for something so small as to be more of a garnish than a side dish! But the spiced crab apples are rather adorable and quite fun to serve for a special occasion. They also work well on a cheese board or charcuterie platter.

But plan ahead. They're ready in a week, but even better at 2 or 3 weeks, and they keep for up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator. I just made 1 quart, but you can easily double or triple the recipe.

Spiced Crab Apples - A Versatile Condiment, Pickle or Garnish / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Spiced Crab Apples


(Makes 1 quart)

1 3/4 cup (12.25 ounces/347 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
7/8 cup (7 fluid ounces/207 ml) apple cider vinegar
7/8 cup (7 fluid ounces/207 ml) water

1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) tiny crab apples


1 Have ready a wide mouth 1-quart canning jar. In a 3-quart stainless steel saucepan, whisk together the sugar and spices. Whisk in the vinegar and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Take off heat for 5 minutes.

2 In the meantime, wash the apples well, leaving the stems intact but removing the fuzzy blossom ends. Pierce the blossom end twice with a skewer or very sturdy toothpick. 

3 Add the apples to the slightly cooled liquid. Bring up to a gentle simmer and simmer the apples for about 15 minutes. Don't let the mixture boil or you might end up with skins falling off the apples and the apples getting overcooked. 


4 Carefully remove the apples from the liquid and put them in a wide mouth 1-quart canning jar. Pour the pickling liquid into the jar. The apples should be completely immersed. If some are floating above the liquid, you can weight them down with something. I have a bunch of 2.6-inch porcelain ramekins and use one of those. These 2.6-inch porcelain dipping sauce dishes would probably also work well. Put on the lid.

5 Let cool for an hour, and then refrigerate for at least a week or up to 4 weeks.

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Jean

37 comments:

Angie's Recipes said...

With all the wonderful spices, these crab apples are going to be very tasty, I am sure!

Tamago said...

It sounds so good to have spiced crab apples with pork roast or turkey! I wasn't familiar with crab apple, so I checked translation into my mother language (Japanese). It came as "hime ringo" which is literally "princess apple." Being so tiny and pretty, I think "princess" is fitting :-)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Angie. Even Mr Delightful liked them!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Tamago, I love that! "Princess apple." Thank you for sharing that.

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

I see. I mean I “C.” C as in cultivar and charcuterie. What a delight to digest a couple new words as part of today’s repast! I’ll have to work them casually into conversation – “So, how is your charcuterie?” A little awkward, but I’ll polish it up. And I’ll polish off the spiced crab apples too! 5 cleavers (cleavers…that’s another “C” word, and we know what that means).

TONY said...

Great Jean. I need another crab apple recipe, or rather I can pass it on to our neighbours. We tend to give away our crab apples to friends and neighbours. Our tree produces an awful lot of them. The back garden is covered with them as the Summer progresses.
It will be a month or two before the white blossom appears. The tree looks absolutely magnificent covered in white blossom.
Last Summer Marilyn and I were standing at our kitchen door early one morning, drinking tea, when we heard the most horrendous ripping noise followed by a cracking sound that must have been heard all over our neighbourhood. We stood there frozen, wondering what on earth was going on. I rushed into the garden and discovered that half the canopy of our crab apple tree had collapsed onto our lawn. It was full of blossom. We could see the heart of the branch and it did look dried out. It took me two days to saw up the branches and remove them to our local recycling centre. The rest of the tree still stands sturdily in our garden. Leaves are appearing on it now as I write. We are looking forward once again to our crab apples but perhaps not so many as last year.
Now I am feeling guilty about the fact that we don't usually use them ourselves. I feel inspired by your recipe, Jean.Thank you.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sully, such an honor to receive the coveted (another C word) 5 Cleavers award! Once the C-oronavirus is behind us, you can dazzle your friends with a charcuterie board resplendent with crab apples.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Tony, a tree episode like that is such a sad thing. But at least the rest of the tree survived. Some people use whole spices, but I like to use the ground spices in this because that's what my mother did. Back then, at least in our little town, there was no other option. Other than whole cloves, no whole spices were available.

Vee said...

I love these! Have never made them myself, but if I find crabapples, that could change.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Vee, thanks so much. And it's really doable, since it's just a quick refrigerator "pickle" rather than real canning.

TONY said...

Vee, I can send you some later on the Summer

ellen b. said...

"rather than real canning" I might have hope. LOL!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

I know what you mean, Ellen! I'm not averse to canning, but I'm just not up to all that right now. Other things on my mind!

Lorrie said...

I love pickled crab apples. My grandmother used to make them and can them for storage throughout the winter. She was of German Mennonite background. Another thing she pickled was watermelon - the green rind without the hard peel. I loved that, too.

Cheryl said...

This post conjures two memories. When I was in elementary school, we lived across the street from a family with a crabapple tree in the front yard. It was a great climbing tree! Every year, the crabapples fell from the tree en masse, although I never thought a thing about what could be done with the harvest. The second memory: a local restaurant (no longer in business) used to garnish every meal with a ring of spiced apple. I can taste them now as I read about your spiced crabapples. Yum!

Jeanie said...

I've never canned and I have no idea where I'd get crab apples but they sound delicious!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Lorrie, thank you. If I find a neighbor with a crab apple tree and can get a lot of them, I'll have to try canning them. Watermelon pickles sound so good, I've never had them. Might have to make some this summer.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Cheryl, thank you for sharing your apple memories. I could do some apple rings right now.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jeanie, you can just make a small batch as I did without getting into all that canning business. And I'm sure you have a neighbor who when the season hits will have crab apples going to waste!

Phil in the Kitchen said...

I love the idea of adding a spiced, preserved crab apple to a dish and your recipe sounds just perfect. I'm a big fan of the traditional spiced and pickled treats and I've noticed that they've become trendy in the more expensive restaurants in recent years. (I'm still not sure that I'll ever enjoy pickled eggs, though). I haven't looked into the history of this kind of preserve (shame on me) although I do know that recipes for pickled and spiced fruit turn up in some form in even the most ancient of cookery tomes. Personally, I'm very fond of pickled cherries which are listed in many old English cookery books but are not often made in this country these days. In fact, I first came across them in the south of France where I suppose they have a plentiful supply of cherries that they need to preserve.

Laurie Lasala-Tuttle said...

This sounds delicious, and I'd love to make it, but I've never seen crab apples for sale in southern California.Perhaps these trees ar found only on the east coast?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Phil, thank you so much. I was the only one in the family who turned my nose up at the pickled eggs. I still can't wrap my mind around that one! But I've never heard of the cherries. I'm rather excited about that idea!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Laurie, I think crab apples are available nationwide, but they're often easy to miss in the grocery store because usually they're sold in a little 1-pound bag in a little stack that gets lost among all the "big" apple varieties. Try https://www.melissas.com/ Melissa's Produce online, https://www.melissas.com/Organic-Crimson-Gold-Apples-p/48.htm. Hope this helps. Let me know.

Laurie Lasala-Tuttle said...

Oh thanks so much for this info. I'll now be sure to look!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Laurie, you're so welcome. I was hoping you would come back and look for a response. I like to help readers with any of their food questions!

Karen @ Beatrice Euphemie said...

Oh, these are adorable, Jean - and I love that there is no water-bath to mess with, too! I will have to look for these little apples - perhaps once the farmer's markets open up again! I will pin this so that when I find them, I can try this. I'll bet they are delicious with pork chops and chutney! Take care! x Karen

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Karen, thank you. AND for the great idea--have with pork chops, which I happen to be making for dinner this evening!

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

These sound so good and spicy, Jean! I'll bet they're a great accompaniment to many dishes. I'll have to look for the crab apples. I made a batch of jam this past week, along with cooking and baking. It seems that we have so much time on our hands these days of shelter in place. Take care and stay well!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Kitty. Yes, cooking is a great shelter-in-place activity! I have foil pans on hand to take meals to sick friends and neighbors, but I hope they won't be needed, of course! Let's all stay well.

Cocoa and Lavender said...

Spiced crabapples were de rigueur on our Thanksgiving and Christmas tables. I always thought of them as a New England tradition because that is where my family roots are. I hope I can find crabapples someday to make these!

Pauline Wiles said...

The Japanese translation to "princess apple" is much prettier, really. And strangely, I was talking to my aunt only last week about pickled eggs. I think the unpredictable food situation in some locations is making us all ponder ways to stretch foods a bit further, and preserve anything that is plentiful.

Hope you are staying safe, Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

David, you must revive your family spiced crab apple tradition! If you can't find them, go online to Melissa's Produce and Stemilt and such.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Pauline, thank you! And, yes, "princess apple" sounds much nicer. Before this situation is over, we may all be eating some unusual combinations of whatever is available!

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Hey Jean! I love the small batch size you did! How interesting to pair them with pork. I might have to give that a try!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Sue! I bet they'd be great with a Reuben sandwich, too--lots of things really.

Shelbee on the Edge said...

Oh wow, Jean, I have never heard of spiced crab apples but they look amazing! I pinned it for later. Thanks for sharing and linking up.

Shelbee
www.shelbeeontheedge.com

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Shelbee! Great for picnics, tailgating (whether sports or your bluegrass festivals!). Someday again. sigh

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