I have been using crabapples for many, many years. Until a few years ago I never wanted to use the crabapples I picked to take a chance making a pie.
If you have ever made crabapple jelly or processed them for the pectin that they contain then you know there is a lot of work involved. I figured that with a pie there would be even more work because you could not just throw the cleaned apples in a pot and cook them up like in jelly making. You have to remove the stems, blossoms, core and seeds for a pie.
I did not want to do all that work and then have a pie that might not be good enough to eat. So for many years I just stayed with making jelly, pectin and crabapple sauce ( a byproduct of jelly and pectin making ).
Then I retired. There was more time available to get out-and-about. I discovered more territory and consequently more things that could be foraged.
A couple of years ago I discovered a couple of crabapple trees that were just so loaded with large crabapples that it was hard to believe. Of course by then I had jelly, pectin and crabapple sauce up to my ears because of over-production ( there is just so much I can eat ) over the years.
Anyway, there I stand, in front of those few trees, wondering what to do with them all. I actually considered making more jelly and applesauce.
I did not though. I picked a few bagfuls, being very careful to pick nothing but 'perfect' specimens because I did not want too much work to do with them when I got home and had no idea at the time what I was going to do with them.
At home I dumped them all into a 5 gallon bucket with cold water. In the cleaning of them I saw just how good they looked. It was then that I decided to try a pie. And boy was I glad I did.
It is actually less work preparing crabapples for pie than it is making jelly, pectin or crabapple sauce. At least the majority of the slicing can be done in the living room in comfort.
As a bonus, you can still use the cores for extracting some juice for jelly making. Simmer a while, strain the pulp in a colender and filter the pulp. If you don't end up with a lot of juice you can freeze it until the next time you make a pie and add that juice to what you saved.
I have the crabapple pie making down pat now.
There have been plenty since that day.
9 inch pie pan
Big TV with football game on
Comfortable living room chair
Top and bottom pie crusts ( whatever you usually use ). If you don't have a crust preference get a box of Betty Crocker Pie Crust mix.
Enough cut up pieces of cleaned crabapples to make 6 cups.
4. Procedure / technique
This tutorial is based on using those crabapples that are big. In crabapple terms big is defined as over 1 inch.
I have never tried making a pie from those very small crabapples. I have no intention to either!
Here are some fine looking crabapples. These are the kind of crabapples that you want to use for Crabapple Pie.
I have found the easiest way to prepare the crabapples is to get comfortable in the living room in front of the TV while a football game is on. Put a bowl for the waste in an area near you and another bowl with water in it that has RealLemon squirts in it.
Cut off nice chunky 'sides' from the washed crabapples. Four cuts and the only thing left behind is the core, stem end and blossom end.
These cores can actually be further processed to extract juice for jelly or pectin.
The good pieces go into the bowl of ReaLemon water.
As you cut the crabapples up put the good slices in water that has ReaLemon in it to prevent crabapples from browning.
When you have all the crabapples cut into pieces that you think you need, drain them. No need to rinse. The ReaLemon water will still do it's job to keep the apples from turning brown until you measure out 6 cups.
Put 6 cups of crabapples in a bowl to await the addition of the dry mixture of:
flour ( 3 tablespoons),
salt ( dash ),
cinnamon ( 1/4 teaspoon ),
nutmeg ( 1/4 teaspoon ) and
sugar ( 1/2 to 1 cup, depending crabapple sweetness ). This is a crabapple amount. For regular apples it is 1/3 cup. ( remember this crabapple amount because for future crabapple pies you may want to make an adjustment based on your preferences ).
Add the dry mixture to the apples a little at a time trying to stir the apples up a bit while addding the mix. Then really get into it, and using both hands tumble and mix well.
Fill the bottom crust with the apple batch.
Put on the top crust and seal edges.
Cut slits on top crust.
Line the edge of the pie with a strip of aluminum foil.
Put in 425° pre-heated oven - middle rack for 1 1/2 hours.
Brush on some softened butter then sprinkle some regular sugar over the top.
Here is the hard part.
Wait a couple of hours to let the apple pie cool off before cutting. Then enjoy.
Cut the pie after it has cooled for a few hours.