I Have Two Crab Apple Trees in My Yard. They Are Loaded to the Point of Exploding! Time to Find a Few Crab Apple Recipes So They Don’t Go to Waste.
What distinguishes a crab apple? A crab apple is two inches around or smaller and is tarter than standard apples. I use my crab apples just like regular apples in recipes and they always turn out just as tasty.
Last year I made a couple big batches of my favorite apple pie filling and canned it up. We’ve been eating on them all year. I have two jars left so it’s time to get busy.
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By now you know that I love to buy in bulk. My crab apples are even better – they’re free! Now, what to do with all those apples?
How to Freeze
Whole crab apples, crab apple puree, and crab apple juice will freeze well. To freeze whole crab apples, rinse them and remove the stem and blossom end.
Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. When frozen, transfer to freezer bags and use within three months. Juice and puree should be put into a glass or plastic freezer storage containers with airtight lids.
Crab Apple Recipes From Around the Web
So get out there, find a crab apple tree and make one of these recipes. Once you look for a tree, you’ll find them everywhere.
Make Spiced Crab Apples, leave the stems on and can them using the water bath method. Also, Common Sense Homesteading is making Spiced Crabapples with this recipe and gives instructions for canning, and because I can’t get enough, this recipe for Old-Fashioned Spiced Crabapples shared by The View From Great Island looks fantastic.
This recipe for Crab Apple Butter from Mennonite Girls Can Cook is another tasty and easy way to use your crab apple abundance. Here’s another recipe from Lovely Greens – Spiced Crab Apple Butter.
Joybilee Farms teaches us how to make crab apple fruit leather in this post.
Crabapple jelly is a tasty old-time tradition. Get the recipe from this post at Learning and Yearning.
The University of Alaska – Fairbanks put together a collection of recipes and other tips for freezing, drying and storing crab apples. These include making syrup, fruit leather, apple butter, jelly, and muffins.
Crabapples have enough natural pectin so no additional pectin is needed for this Crabapple Jelly.
Pectin is a naturally occurring complex carbohydrate in fruit that is concentrated in the fruit’s skin and the core. When pectin is cooked, it thickens to a gel. Find out more in the recipe for Homemade Crabapple Jelly from Grow a Good Life.
You can even make crabapple cider from these beauties. A Magical Childhood shares their fantastic recipe. You can also swap regular apples for crab apples in this Preparedness Mama homemade apple cider vinegar recipe (but double or triple the amount of sugar.)
Here’s a very simplified tutorial by The Fantastic Forager on how to do it.
Have you ever considered planting a crab apple tree of your own? This post from Attainable-Sustainable gives you 5 Good Reason to plant a Crabapple Tree.
And here is my favorite Apple Pie Filling made with crab apples. I like to use Clear Jel as my thickening agent for pies because it tolerates the high temperatures used during the canning process.
I also like to use this handy Apple Corer & Slicer to really get it done quickly. This one tool saves me a ton of time in the kitchen each fall as I prepare my apple pie filling for the year.
CrabApple Pie Filling
- 12 pounds apples eashed and cored, no need to peel
- 5 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups Clear Jel
- 1 tbsp cinnamon to taste
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg to taste
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves to taste
- 5 cups apple juice
- 2 1/2 cups cold water
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- Cut apples into 1/2 inch slices, place in ascorbic acid solution if you wish. Measure 33 cups
- In a large pot, heat 1 gallon of water to boiling.
- Add 6 cups apple slices, return to boiling and boil for 1 minute
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer apples to a large bowl, cover
- Repeat with remaining apples. Measure 24 cups
- In a 4 qt dutch oven combine sugar, Clear Jel, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
- Stir in apple juice and the cold water
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and boils.
- Add lemon juice, boil one minute, stirring constantly
- Pour over apples, stirring to coat
- Spoon hot mixture into hot quart jars, leaving 1-inch head space, remove air bubbles, wipe rims and adjust lids
- Process in water bath canner 25 minutes. Remove jars from canner, cool
Hi, I’m Gabriela and I’m a prepping freak with a knack for frugal living – as if you could have one without the other. I’m also interested in all things DIY, green living, and homesteading. I’ve been dreaming of a self-sufficient, one-acre organic farm ever since I realized how fragile urban life really is. It takes one push of a button for millions to be left without running water. It takes no more than a four- to seven-day disruption in a city’s food supply for complete mayhem to break out. So, I’m now dutifully working toward keeping my loved ones safe when the brown matter (inevitably) hits the oscillating ceiling device, but I also like to share what I’m learning with fellow likeminded folks as I go.
Hi Irene, Thanks for stopping by! This pie filling is both tart and sweet, which is why I love it. It works well for regular apples and crab apples too. When you are doing your mixing, just give it a taste and add a bit more sugar if you feel you need it. I get my Clear-jel at Maple Leaf Company, but Amazon has it too. Here’s a publication from WSU about using it. I’ve been using the “regular” kind not instant.
Thank you so very much for all the information! As soon as I get my Clear- gel I am making this and some of the other recipes you gave me the link to.
For many years, my grandmother made crab apple jelly, a favorite of mine. Now that’s in a nursing home, I wanted to make my own jelly. I was lucky to find three very old trees in a parking lot of a strip mall. No one knew what the trees were, so I picked all that I could and made jelly. I also froze some juice for future recipes.
Hi Rene, Thanks for proving my point. It seems like you can find crab apple trees everywhere!
Looks yummy in the jars but oh so much suger
Matt Miller says
Recently, our HOA Board of Directors decided to cut down crab apple trees that were growing in the center of our court and 3 other courts in the neighborhood. I was not the only one upset, but I believe I was the only one actually using the crabapples. Luckily, a neighbor has a tree on his own property and told me to pick all I want. I have won a second place in our state fair competition for my lelly, and I have also made crab apple butter and hard cider. I have just picked a big bucket of crab apples and have started a crab/pink cripps blended cider, but have plenty left jelly and more. The apple pie filling looks good, but I can’t imagine coring crabapples…I guess varieties can vary in size a bit, but mine are all about the size of a good sized cherry. Trying to use them for making pie would be practically impossible, but crab apple sauce is an option…straining is a bit messy, but can be done…and it can be used in an applesauce quick bread or apple cake.
Most people consider them ornamental, but to me, it’s free fruit! And I hate to see it go to waste. 100% crab apple cider, I have learned, isn’t great, but it works well when blended with sweeter, regular apple varieties. My best last year was a blend with Fuji apples.
Wow! What great ideas! I love that you are using the fruit others would just toss. Thanks for sharing !!
Matt Miller says
Here’s info on my current crab apple cider project. If you have a bunch, it’s an easy and fun way to use them!
Sonny Swift says
When I was a little girl my mom made candy crab apples. Have any ideas how to do this? Mom passed away so did hundreds of canning ideas……
Hi Sonny, try this recipe…http://recipes.wikia.com/wiki/Red_Cinnamon_Crab_Apples
My large tree has much larger fruit than most recipes assume – on average 3 inches. I am new to canning and fruit preparation, and my first try last year resulted in crabapple butter much too sweet (though still yummy!) The apples in your photo look like they may be large too. Any advice how to adjust recipes to this larger fruit variety?
Hi Holly, You might try using one of your bigger apples for two small crabapples if that seems to be the right ratio. I have a small scale that I use for soapmaking, so if I needed exact poundage I would just measure it. Luckily apples are pretty versatile and you can get away with eyeballing it, but then I think I always lean toward over-measuring when I cook.
Tanya @ Lovely Greens says
Thanks so much for my recipe share Shelle 🙂 One thing I should point out is that the ‘crap apples’ I used actually ended up being ‘Flowering Quince’! They are very similar and can be used in exactly the same ways in cooking. The two are related but Flowering Quince can sometimes be easier for people in urban areas to find due to it being used so commonly in municipal plantings – at least here in Britain.
Betty Jo says
When you say add apple juice, do you mean store bought or juices from my boiled apples?
I use store bought but you could press your own juice too.
How many quarts does this make?
Laura, it makes 4-5 quarts
one more question… for processing do the jars have to be covered with water (my canner isnt quite tall enough)
Hi Laura – yes, they need to be covered by at least an inch of water
Emma Cooper says
This is great – thanks for sharing! The only thing I’d seen crab apples used for before this was for crab apple jelly, or blackberry and apple jelly. It’s good to have some more ideas 🙂
Thanks for stopping by Emma!
Here are some other “non traditional” recipes for crabapples:
Thanks for the info!
I make apple cider – raw and fermented… both are good.
Hi this recipe sounds lovely and I’ve just come back from my friends loaded with crab apples – please can you tell us Brits what Clear Jel is and why you add it? I’ve never heard of using a gelling agent in apple pie… thankyou 🙂
For Brits, I think you can get clear gel at the Lakeland stores
peggy goss says
I used to make crab apple jelly and sold many a jar. But last year discovered you could make pies with them. The family loved them. Now I am only making pies, but have so many apples this year I’m very happy to see I can do some canning for future pies with them. Also may try more of your recipes. No more apple orchards now as I have plenty in my own yard. Thanks for your postings–Keep them coming!
What if you don’t have clear jel?
What kind of crabapples are used? The kind from ornamental crabapple trees or from what’s considered edible crabapple trees, with larger fruit? Or maybe it doesn’t matter.
Thank you for sharing!
I was wondering if you’ve ever tried the flowers dried for tea?