making sweet pickled crab apples

November 26, 2009 at 11:00 am 12 comments

These gorgeous cherry like crab apples came from my friend Sara’s ornamental crab apple tree.  They’re quite different to the crab apples I picked from Reg’s 40 year old tree in the summer.  The crab apple and clove jelly I made with those was a lovely orange colour and tasted delicious but I wanted to try something different with these; something that would retain their beautiful shape and colour.  Sweet pickled crab apples were the result and we’ll be in for a treat if they taste as good as they look.

To make sweet pickled crab apples
300ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
400g granulated sugar
25g fresh root ginger, bruised
5cm piece of cinnamon stick
1tsp allspice berries
1kg crab apples
1tsp cloves

  • Put the vinegar, sugar, ginger, cinnamon and allspice berries into a large pan over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil.  Turn down the heat to a simmer. (note for next time: increase volume of liquid (by a third) as not enough to sufficiently cover the fruit in all of the jars and had to hastily make more.  If there’s too much liquid it can easily be used in other preserves)
  • Remove the stalks and blossom tops from each crab apple and prick with a fork to prevent the skins from bursting.  Add to the hot vinegar.  Simmer very gently until they are tender but not too soft.  Remove with a slotted spoon and pack them into warm, sterilised jars.
  • Bring the spiced vinegar syrup to the boil and boil for 5 minutes, then strain it over the crab apples.  Cover the jars with vinegar proof lids.  Consume within a year.

This recipe is a variation of Pam Corbin’s ‘Spiced pickled pears‘ from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook.  You could use almost any fruit and spice combination – just consider how long you cook the fruit for so it doesn’t go too mushy.  I reduced the cooking time for the crab apples and reasoned the vinegar would continue to ‘cook‘ them over the next few months if they were a little under-boiled.

Before boiling up the fruit I dry packed the crab apples into my chosen jars to check how many I would need and to avoid over-handling the fruit once it’s softened. I thought they’d make nice christmas gifts so invested in some small 110g jars.I had enough crab apples left to make another small batch of crab apple jelly; an unadulterated pink blush coloured crab apple jelly.  Straight up, no fuss.

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Margaret  |  November 26, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    The crab apple jelly takes me back to my childhood. I haven’t eaten it since then!
    Beautiful photographs.

    Reply
  • 2. Norm  |  November 26, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    I’ve never seen crab apples that look like that – stunning!

    Reply
  • 3. Ann  |  November 27, 2009 at 7:19 am

    These pictures of the crab apples are beautiful. How about showing us a picture of your store cupboard, with all you bottled produce – I bet it looks gorgeous! What a great Christmas gift they make.

    Reply
  • 4. Nip it in the bud  |  November 27, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Margaret – thanks. Food memories are so evocative aren’t they.

    Norm – small and perfectly formed sprang to mind as soon as I saw them.

    Ann – now there’s a thought. Maybe I’ll try snapping my preserve shelves just for you ;o)

    Reply
  • 5. Bilbo  |  November 29, 2009 at 10:11 am

    One day I would love to see your pantry, I think it must be an Alladin’s cave of goodness and beauty.

    Reply
    • 6. Nip it in the bud  |  November 29, 2009 at 6:27 pm

      the shelves are rather impressive and since you’re the second person to mention it perhaps I will post a picture one of these days. I’m sure it’ll provoke cries of envy and scorn in equal measure

      Reply
  • 7. Sara  |  October 20, 2010 at 3:17 am

    Beautiful photographs. Have some beautiful ornamental crabs – some red, some yellow. I too wanted to do something different – felt these would look (and taste) wonderful on Holiday table.
    So sorry the recipe is in metric. Am sure many of us out here are not familiar with those measurements. But will continue checking the site.

    Reply
  • 8. Nip it in the bud  |  October 24, 2010 at 9:25 am

    thanks Sara. You’ll not be disappointed if you preserve your apples in this way.
    Imperial measures for the ingredients would be:

    – 300ml vinegar = 10.14 fl oz
    (I’d do 11 fl oz as I recall having to boil up a little extra fluid to cover all of the apples in the jars)

    – 400g sugar = 14.1 oz (if increasing vinegar increase sugar accordingly)

    – 25g root ginger = 0.88 oz

    – 1 kg apples – 2.2 lbs

    Reply
  • 9. Fiona Mayhem  |  December 2, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Still working my way through this.

    I have a question, if it is not too impertinent. I usually keep jam jars and lids from a variety of shop bought stuff, but when making vinegary preserves I use cellophane, but no lids. These days I have to transport many as gifts, and so lids would be better. Can I just ask, can I see cellophane under the lids that you have trimmed? If so, is there a secret to making it look so neat, and do you still use elastic bands to secure them?

    Cheers

    Reply
    • 10. Nip it in the bud  |  December 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

      Hi Fiona. It’s lovely to see you working your way round my preserve shelves :o)

      I recycle all my jars too but when I made Marrow Cream I lost a few jars due to dodgy lids. I decided to use cling film as a protective inner liner so that if the jars ever got up ended and came into contact with a faulty lid the contents would be fine.
      So I pull off a strip of cling film, fold it in half and place over the top of the jar as soon as it’s filled. If you use a single layer of cling I’ve found it pops a hole through when the vacuum seal is created. The cling sticks to the glass so no need for a band.
      I screw on the lid immediately and then when the jars have cooled down I trim off the excess cling film using cuticle scissors (curved blades make it much easier).

      Reply
  • 11. Fiona Mayhem  |  December 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Brilliant – thanks for the tip! I must invest in a pair of cuticle scissors.

    Reply
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