Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Tale of the Neglected Crabapple Tree

There is a beautiful crabapple tree directly opposite our house that no one can claim as their own and no one ever uses. At the moment, it is covered in shades of burnt orange and red as the apples finally ripen.

In spring, blackbirds and bluetits amuse us hopping from branch to branch and all year round, the streets many cats, including our own fluff ball, Connie, scarper up it when startled or to get onto the wall opposite.
I will miss these sights when we leave our little terrace.

In the meantime, I find myself lusting after the bitter fruits and seeing as I have never seen anyone so much as look at the crabapples, last sunday, I decided to take action!

Tiptoeing out of the house in the morning after most of the neighbours cars have gone for the day, I collected all the bounty I could reach unaided and rush it back into the kitchen ready to be washed and prepared. M decided that she had to help try to eat up the cleaned fruit and every so often a little hand appeared by the fruit basket ready to pinch another fruit - prehaps in the vain hope that the next crabapple might be sweeter than the last.

I only gathered enough crabapples to use them two ways, but I have located our step ladder and will be back out to the tree (once again when the neighbours are out) to gather higher fruits. At the restaurant, I pickle pears to serve with the Italian meat plate and with the cheeses - pickled crabapples would be fun to serve for a bit. Watch this space.

Crabapple Schnapps

This is hardly a recipe, meerly a set of simple instructions. I have no idea what it tastes like yet, but after a week, the orange liqueur smells delicious and no longer like vodka.

Wash 20 crabapples and cut them in half. Don't worry about peeling or coreing them.
Place them in a clean, sterile jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid and cover with clear, unflavoured vodka.
Leave to steep for around 8 weeks in a cupboard, shaking lightly form time to time.
Strain and filter the infusion into a clean jar or bottle and store for a further month to age.
Serve as an appetizer or with a cheese plate.

The crabapple jelly below was my first foray into the world of jam making and was definitely a good recipe to break me in. Apple have pectin (jam setting agent) in naturally, so there were no complicating steps to the recipe and I can assure you that the smell around the house while the apples were straining through a muslin reminded me of Autumn in Hereford and the smell in the air of apples cooking at Bulmers Cider Factory.

Crabapple Jelly (from

Makes 6 x 500ml jars

4kg crabapples
1 kg caster sugar
1 lemon

Wash the apples, remove the blossom heads and cut out any bruised bits. Put in a saucepan, fill with water to cover the apples and bring to the boil. Simmer for 25 minutes until the fruit is soft. Pour the pulp into a jelly bag or several layers of muslin and let drip overnight into a pan beneath. Don’t squeeze the bag, it will cloud the jelly.
The next day, measure the juice, and combine with sugar at the ratio of 10 parts juice to 7 sugar. Add the lemon, then bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Keep at a rolling boil for 35–40 minutes, skimming off the froth regularly. To test, chill a dessertspoon in the fridge. When the jelly is set, it will solidify on the back of the spoon. Pour into warm, sterilised preserving jars and tightly seal while still slightly warm. Store in a cool dark place.



  1. I have never tried crabapple before. Does it look and taste just like apples? This is interesting!

  2. Crabapples are a much smaller than regular apples and are really bitter until you cook them. They dry your mouth right out if you eat on raw.
    I don't think anyone actually sells them, certainly not near me anyway, so you just have to keep a look out for a tree near you!
    They cook so well and become so tasty. Totally worth the hunt!

  3. Ciao complimenti il tuo blog รจ molto bello e molto belle anche le foto