i was bitten by the canning bug after canning our own fresh & free grape juice last month. so after brock & i enthusiastically ordered 8 fruit trees and 6 berry bushes to plant in our yard this fall, i thought about how long it would take them to bear fruit. and then i thought about our crabapple tree. it was beautiful in the spring when we were house hunting, covered with blossoms,
and it has been beautiful in the fall, covered with little red apples:
i hadn't imagined it being useful in any practical way. but as i thought about fruit and canning, i remembered hearing of crabapple jam. i hopped on the internet and pulled up lots of yummy sounding recipes. and we started picking.
even tiny fingers could pick these apples
they piled up
and i started cooking. first i made a crabapple pie for family home evening dessert.
the flavor was great, like cranberreis, but better. but the texture left much to be desired...to many little seeds and core pieces (i just chopped them up like the recipe said....). plus it was very labor intensive. next i borrowed my friend's faithful steam juicer and went to work. i found that it is not at all necessary, or even helpful, to chop the apples first. just throw them in the juicer, stems and all.
with that juice, i made crabapple hot pepper jelly - very delish, and just plain old crabapple jelly - also yummy. for my final stage of testing, i made crabapple jam and crabapple butter. the jam was the winner because my family likes it the best, it was the least amount of work, and it gave the highest yield of finished product for the amount of crabapples used. but the hot pepper jelly is so yummy with cream cheese and crackers. i have made 4 batches of it so far, and given away much, much.
remember our apple picking day? we ended up with 7 boxes after two days of picking. 3 or 4 boxes were used at our relief society apple canning enrichment activity, and i used the rest.
with the help of sherry's juicer, these apples & their peelings made the loveliest rosy red juice and sauce.
6 dozen quarts of canning later (including the grape juice), i feel very satisfied. to take something that i got for free, and would have gone to waste, and use it to make something beautiful, yummy, and useful that my family can enjoy is very fulfilling. after mia had her first after-school snack of toast with crabapple jelly, she asked if she could run outside and pick some more crabapples. a little while later, she came back with another boxful. and i knew it was all worth it. i have many generations of this kind of pioneer practicality bred into me, and i am grateful.
as we were picking our crabapples, two neighbors stopped by and made disparaging comments about my little round red fruit friends. unfair. and so in their defense i offer their good points:
1. birds and bugs don't like them, so you don't have to spray. this saves time, energy, money, and pesticides in your family's airways and stomachs (i hate pesticides, and all of our canned fruit this year was pesticide free - another benefit of gathering free fruit that no one planned to use) 2. the fruit is small and branches are low, so even little ones can help pick. 3. fruit flies don't like them either. i wish that was true for grapes and apples. 4. they have a really yummy tangy zip in jams & jellies. 5. they grow in abundance with no effort.
i have enough picked crabapples (and many more still on the tree) left to make another batch of jam....and i think i will.