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
- 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.