46 thoughts on “Crabapples, 7/22/13

  1. I always get “crabapples” confused with “horse apples.” The latter definitely doesn’t make for good jelly.

  2. Are you sure those are crabapples, Mr. Scalzi? They look a hell of a lot like hawthorn to me.

  3. When growing up we has 2 crabapple trees. We had a lot of crabapple fights.

    As an adult, who also has 2 crabapple trees, I find them primarily on the bottom of my shoes or my dog’s feet tracking across the carpeting. Pretty flowers in spring, though.

  4. If water bath canning in the kitchen doesn’t sound like fun in the summer months, it is possible to do it outdoors using a propane burner with legs, such as one would use for deep-frying turkeys.

  5. To me, it looks like malus floribunda or a similar crabapple bred for flowers rather than fruit. But then, I’m no botanist either. I just have a couple of those guys outside my office window.

  6. They work great in a slingshot. They look more natural than stones when you break a window with them, at least thats the way I remember it 50+ years ago when I was a kid!

  7. The red seems more vivid than I recall from the Crabapples Of My Youth. And they seem shinier, too. (My first reaction is to think they’ve been polished, but of course, nobody has time to do such things, not for a small prank!)

    I wonder if they’re not something else.

    Crabapple jelly was pretty good, I’d suggest looking into that if they are suitable.

  8. Crabapple jelly is one of the easiest (because they have plenty of pectin, you don’t have to add any) and it’s got a lovely flavor and color as well.

  9. My grandma used to split a batch of the jelly into 3 parts. One part would be bottled as is, one would have mint and green food coloring added, and the third would have cinnamon and red food coloring. All three yummy, and they looked so colorful sitting on the shelf!

  10. Well, I’d point out that whether they’re crabapples or hawthorn berries, you already HAVE done something with them. That is a truly lovely photo, the kind that could be turned into “Art” without much effort at all. I’d hang it on my wall, at least.

  11. I don’t think those are crabapples either. They shouldn’t be ripe this early. I’d need to see more of the plant for other ID options.

  12. That’s the tree that makes the beautiful pink flowers in the spring, isn’t it? Isn’t nature wonderful!

    @ Floored? Hawthorn trees have leaves that are a different shape, and also have long thorns on the branches. Hawthorn trees are pretty trees, too.

  13. I’m also afraid I don’t think those are crabapples. At least, they don’t look like the ones I used to eat off the tree, most of the way through the winter, on the way to class. Tiny bites, walking in the snow. So yummy.

  14. These aren’t the crabapples of my youth, which is good as those were inedible. Ours weren’t red till autumn. Possibly a different species from yours, which look like the kind one spices and bottles for Christmas.

    As others have said above, they do make fantastic projectiles. I’m having flashbacks to the bruises of my youth.

    I dunno, I have a real apple tree so I just eat them.

    The birds probably like them, and with the disappearance of so much habitat, leaving yummy fruits out there is good.

  15. Those look like the kind from my grandmother’s tree, much smaller and redder than the varieties most people are used to. If they are, they make amazingly good jelly.

  16. @ Chem:

    Aah, crap, I forgot about the thorns. Next time, I will consult my tree guide before making dumb suggestions.

  17. Judging by one leaf in the pic you may not actually want to make crab apple jelly (Jelly: solidified juice) from these way to early in the season crab apples that look like are the fruit of a flowering type.

    If you want to make jelly from a flowering crab apple’s fruit it I suggest cutting each fruit in half, and having good eyesight.
    Because high protein jelly tastes bad.

    Making cranberry sauce that tastes good is similar: First, fresh is good.
    Second, look at each fucking goddamn berry and toss the ones with the brown spots, and the ones that look great but are squishy.
    Zeroith. Give a bag of cranberries to a bunch of kids and have them bring back the ones that bounce.

  18. Note to self: Spiced crab apples in a jar. Better than chocolate. Where is my shopping list.
    And a BTW: fruiting crab apple fruits are IIRC are about 1.5 inches in diameter.

  19. I know you’ve answered this before, but what kind of camera do you use? The images you take are really good.

  20. I think I always called hedge apples crabapples when I was young, And hedge apples only had one use – weaponry!

  21. There’s all sorts of crab apples, and some mature in early summer. Those look pretty good as they go. The tiny ones (half an inch or less) here in Montana are already ripe, and the malus dolgo (aka “beer apples”, usually only seen as rootstock returning after the top dies) probably are too, if I could find any — they’re barrel-shaped, kinda fluoro-pinkish, and make the best jelly imaginable. Just smash ‘em, boil with sugar to taste, strain, and refrigerate. The bigger crabs (up to 2.5″ or so) probably won’t be ripe for another month.

  22. My family had a few crabapple trees on the edge of our horse pasture. The horses would stand under them for shade in the summer. However, when the crabapples started emerging, we would have to fence off the trees. Otherwise, the horses could colic from eating too mainy apples. We fortunately never had them colic from the apples.

  23. Find a thin stick about three feet long. Sharpen the end and stick a crabapple on it. Whip the stick and fling that apple! (Face away from windows, etc.) You can fling it a fairly long distance with a little practice.

  24. Wow, here I thought that the crabapples of my youth were a peculiarity of my up-bringing, and yet look at all my fellow crapabblers! Tossing crabapples, snacking on crabapples, making crabapplesauce (the best with pork!)… ah, the summers of my childhood.

    The crabapple trees of my youth were finally dug up when my uncle got fed up with mowing around them and all the children had grown up but not yet produced children of our own, and thus felt we couldn’t really object.

  25. I know the impulse; my neighbor’s plum tree hangs over my back landing, and nobody else but the birds are interested in the fruit. I picked bags full this year, thought about pies and cobbler and dried plums; made one little jar of plum butter and otherwise just ate them. Mmm…

  26. Whatever you do, don’t try pie.

    At least if your crabapples are as sour as the ones on my tree are. I made some pies from crabapples for a company fundraiser a few years back and I am STILL getting abuse for it. So so sour.

    They’ll pay. They will ALL pay someday.

  27. My mom’s spiced crabapple recipe probably came from Joy of Cooking, and I think it was as simple as “cut out the stems, maybe cut them in half, and boil them with sugar, cinnamon, and maybe cloves. Refrigerate and eat cold.” No canning, no complicated jelly-making, no need to wait for “should do this some day” (except waiting until they get ripe, obviously); just do it.

  28. I agree with everyone here that has fond memories of grandmas spiced crabapples! I miss the thing now as the only trees I see are the flowering ones & their fruit is useless as far as I can tell.

    I discovered a mulberry tree this weekend but sadly its about a week too late, the area around it was a purple mess. But the few remaining fruit were so sweet and juicy I thought I would eat until it made me sick. luckily or sadly there were not enough of them to do that. But I have it on my radar for next year

  29. Funny, my husband would never look at crabapples (if we had any growing in our yard) and think, “I really should be more handy with this stuff.” ;-)

  30. @Bill Stewart:
    My 1952 Joy of Cooking contains two Crab Apple recipes, three if you count the faux Crab Apple garnishes (made from yellow cheese and cloves) in the Salad chapter.
    One of those is for Crab Apple Jelly. The other is for Pickled Crab Apples:

    PICKLED CRAB APPLES
    Leave the stems on:
    Crab apples
    Cut out the blossom ends. Follow the above rule for Spiced Pears I.

    That “rule” is

    SPICED PEARS I OR WINTER PEARS
    Boil:
    6 cups cider vinegar
    8 cups brown sugar
    2 teaspoons cloves minus heads
    A 3 inch stick cinnamon

    Cut into slices, core and add:
    8 lbs. winter pears: Kiefer
    Boil them until they are tender. Drain them. Place them in jars. Cover them with the sirup. Seal the jars at once. The excess sirup may be saved and used a second time or used for basting a ham.

  31. And as long as I’m typing long-forgotten recipes, there’s this from my 1936 Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book:

    Crabapple Conserve
    Wash, quarter, and core (but do not peel) as many crabapples as desired. Place in a preserving kettle with 3 cupfuls of sugar to every quart of fruit. Put a stick of cinnamon in the center, add a few cloves and enough water to moisten, or about one cupfull to the ordinary medium-size kettle. Place in a slow oven and cook for about 2 hours. Keep covered until the sugar is all dissolved; do not stir, but baste carefully to keep moist. This conserve will turn dark and transparent the last 1/2 hour of cooking.

  32. Now we all need to know if these are the edible or ornamental type.

    Since we have freezer technology nowadays, it seems that the conserve/preserve/crabapple sauce could be frozen and thus skip all that hot work of canning.

    I suggest coring them, throwing ‘em in a crockpot with spices and a TON of sugar overnight, then putting the resulting moosh into freezer containers.

  33. Crabapples what are ripe in July.
    It comes back to me that I was surprised, last century, by the time of year when I saw bright red tiny things on what looked like a malus or related tree. Energy wise, is very definitely no reason that a tree can’t ripen half inch fruits _much_ quicker than its relatives can ripen three inch ones.

    “hedge apples” Osage orange? I vaguely recall some guy who used them for fencing. A four foot thick living fence? Anyway, his animals almost treated that hedge like it was electric.

    @M.A. Sounds like you don’t have squirrels. Grey squirrel are tree rats. Red squirrels are awesome. If you are in a space that can support a couple dozen red squirrels please have your approving forestry agent get back to Scalzi/Me about my chipping in for a couple of breeding pairs.

    “[They will pay for what they say about my crabapple pie.]” Make it again, add lots of that stevia rebaudiana stuff, tell ‘em it’s rhubarb.
    BTW, Are two kinds of cooks. Ones that have a garbage can, and them that don’t.

    Not a note to self. Spiced crabapple rings in a can taste like metal.

  34. “the edible or ornamental type”
    Both types produce edible fruit. The ones that have been selected for fruit have tastier fruits than the ones that have been selected for pretty (and perhaps less messy).
    IIRC, all malus varieties produce fruit that is edible to humans, but is something that I’m not remembering about the seeds in.

  35. Make jelly–really! It’s delicious stuff and it’s like opening up a jar of summer when you pop one open in the winter. Guaranteed to brighten the darkest morning.

  36. I made crabapple jelly once. It came to about three jars full. It was good, but it led to people having expectations that I was not able to fulfill. If you make it, put it in the refrigerator, and use it. you don’t have to worry about canning it.

  37. Crabapple liqueur

    Wash and quarter the crabapples and pack into a 4 quart jar
    If you like cinnamon toss in a cinnamon stick.
    Add 4 cups sugar.
    Fill the jar with vodka, about 3 cups, any kind will do as long as it is triple distilled or charcoal filtered. I have found the cheapest vodka that meets these requirements works best.
    Cap the jar and turn every day for 14 days.
    Pour out the liquid and if you are squeamish filter out any loose pieces of the crabapples.
    Bottle the Liqueur and let age a month but drink before next year’s crabapple harvest.

    You can also crush the crabapples in an apple saucer after draining the liqueur, Use cheese cloth or a cotton pillow case to squeeze the remaining juice from the “sauce” The pressed liqueur will be cloudy but is good for cooking.

  38. @Shawn: Oh yeah, we got squirrels. But I’m on the third floor; the branches that hang over my landing are fairly high and too spindly to support squirrels — that’s why the weight of the plums is enough to hang them within my reach.

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