Crabapples: Sweet and Sour Wonders
I feel like I’ve died and gone to crabapple heaven. Everywhere I turn in my home, I bump into boxes of these tart, crimson beauties. I’ve been picking them almost daily; luckily I have friends with trees so large and no desire to pick them. Crabapples are one of the few fruits that grow well in both hot and cold climates, and especially well here in Alaska since they can tolerate the cold temperatures, the occasional rainy summers, and the frozen ground 6 months out of the year. They are hardy. Just like Alaskans, and maybe that’s why I like them so much.
More like cherries in appearance than apples, these sour wonders are excellent for making apple butters, gorgeous jellies, tangy fruit leathers, and tart cakes. When heating them for sauce, it’s easiest to cook them whole and strain out the cores, seeds and stems, as it can be tedious to core them before baking because of their petite size. For using them fresh for cakes pies and muffins, I’ve discovered it’s easiest to cut the apple off the core rather than removing the core from the apple. To do this, use a chef’s knife, and stand the apple on the blossom end, cutting as close to the core as possible. After the first cut, place cut side down and repeat all the way around the core, leaving behind a “square” core.
I’ve been having a great time experimenting with crabapples, making everything from cakes and liqueur to vinegar. I have some steeping right now in Vodka and some in white wine vinegar. We’ll know in a few weeks if they turn into something worthwhile, so check back soon for a crabapple cocktail recipe. Until then, try my recipe for Triple-Ginger Crabapple Spice Cake.