Crabapples and rhubarb have much in common in that eating them in their natural state will cause the eater to pull a face that is memorable to those who see it. They are sour, tart, pick your adjective. It takes sweetening to bring out the true flavor of crabapples.
My favorite way to eat crabapples is in a sauce form. There are only two ingredients required… crabapple pulp and sugar. It is a little work intensive, but the flavor is the payoff. The resultant applesauce is a lovely rose color and is a nice alternative to traditional applesauce.
I’ve seen proportions vary of pulp to sugar. I look at 5-1 pulp to sugar, e.g. 5 cups of crabapple pulp to 1 cup of sugar.
Creating the pulp can be done two ways, both of which start with cooking the crabapples. Halve and remove stems from crabapples. Place in a pot adequate in size to hold them. Add enough water just to cover the apples. Bring to a boil and simmer until apples are tender.
Here is where philosophies split.
1. Run the apples through a food mill to remove seeds and skins.
2. Separate the juice from the apples by hanging them in cheesecloth until they stop dripping. Run the stuff left in the cheesecloth (pomace) through the food mill. Reconstitute the apple pulp by adding 1/2 cup of water for every 2 cups of processed pulp. This is the method I use, because I use the crabapple juice as pectin or for jelly in its own right. Also, I find the reconstituted pulp has less tanins to pucker the tongue. Just one woman’s opinion.
For either method, put the pulp back into the pot, add sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Fill sterilized pint jars leaving 1/2 in headspace. Seal. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Or, applesauce may be put into freezer container and frozen. Or, applesauce may be consumed immediately!
Canned crabapple sauce makes an excellent and unique offering for holiday or hostess giving, too.
Photo credit: dendroica