Do you have a favourite smell? One that brings back all your favourite memories? Of crisp Autumn days or happy times in the kitchen?
If I could pick one smell, it would be crab apples.
Their pretty red-pink might also win for best colour too. I digress.
Lessons in crab apples
I vividly remember picking crab apples growing up on the family farm. I would pick all the apples as high as I could reach while my mom or grandma got the taller ones with the ladder. My grandma’s voice still rings in my head, gently lecturing me to not waste a single apple.
Any apples that fell while picking could still be collected for juice.
At the time I thought it was silly. There were so. many. apples. Surely one or two going to waste wouldn’t be a big deal?
While I haven’t heard of anyone dying from lack of crab apples, the lesson still sticks in my mind. Now that I’m older, I confess that I take a certain amount of pride in being able to make my own crab apple pies, juice, and sauces.
Related: For the Love of Berry Picking
Early Autumn Apples make Delicious Crab Apple Butter
Every year I like to try something new. This year crab apple butter was calling my name.
Despite having the word butter in it’s title, there is actually no butter in apple butter. Think of it as a thick jam, or a jazzed up version of apple sauce.Did you know there's no butter in apple butter? It's still delicious.Click To Tweet
The ingredients are simple: crap apples, lemon juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Cook, blend, cook again, and serve. Don’t worry, I’ll go into slightly more detail below.
Use it up!
I can hear you already, “That sounds great, Kristen, but what will I actually DO with this marvellous crab apple butter?”
Eat it like you would apple sauce, serve it over pancakes, serve it IN pancakes, or add it to your plain yogurt. You can even serve it on top of crackers and cheddar cheese. Whatever you do, I know that you’ll be coming back for more.
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Maple Spice Crab Apple Butter
A delicious spiced apple butter to use on pancakes, toast, yogurt, or as-is.
6 small jarsIngredients:
5 cups apple sauce,
1 cup apple juice,
1/2 cup maple syrup,
1/4 cup lemon juice,
1 tbsp cinnamon,
1 tsp allspice.
Clean and cut your crab apples, removing all stems, cores, and blossom ends. Fill a large pot approximately 1/2 full of crab apples. Add four cups of water and boil. You may need to add more water as your apples cook so they don’t burn.
When the apples are cooked through and mushy, remove from heat and put them in a blender. Blend on medium low for 30 seconds, or until smooth.
Measure out five cups of crab apple sauce and return to the pot. Add apple juice. I use the crab apple juice I make, but apple juice from the store is fine too. Add maple syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon, and allspice. Feel free to adjust the spices to suit your tastes.
Heat and cook until boiling. Set heat to medium low and simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Transfer to sterilized jars and process in boiling water for 10 minutes, or let cool and store in freezer-safe containers. If canning, it is recommended to follow the procedure and guidelines as outlined here.
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Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots. She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden. She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.