Foraging and Canning Spiced Pickled Crab Apples

As I was planning for the trip to Utah my little sister informed me that a crab apple tree was running rampant on the grounds of her house/apartment and going unused. Cue excitement! Being sweet, she and her husband kindly picked something like 7 pounds of those tart beauties and indulged my canning whims by simply handing them over. Deciding between crab apple jelly or pickled fruit was hard but ultimately I settled on the pickles for two reasons. Firstly, I'm up to my ears in jellies and jams and truth is that I don't eat many sandwiches, biscuits or breads to act as a base for these spreads. And secondly, I mentioned pickled fruit in a previous post about nectarines and couldn't wait to try another adventure.

So, I made a brine of cider vinegar, sugar and spices and took care to simmer down the apples. If you look closely you'll see the stems are still on the fruit; this gives a nice little handle for eating the pickles and adds charm. I love charm. Another peculiarity you might see is the missing blossom ends and various holes pricked in the skins (with a toothpick). I was glancing over two recipes and both of these steps were recommended as ways to prevent splitting. I took care to ladle the fruit carefully in the jars before adding the twice-simmered brine and processing in the water bath canning method. Alas the skins still split.


Pulling from my favorite, the The River Cottage Preserves Handbook, on page 11 of the American edition there exists a variation from spiced pickled pears. Yield was 7 pints. These tart, sour, and sweet little bits of joy will taste delicious in the deep of winter on a fatty pork roast glazed with the leftover brine syrup. Leftover syrup? Why yes, that's another post.

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