When you become a forager you just do not drive by a crabapple tree in the Fall without
'investigating thoroughly what appears to be a new find of a well known edible'.
It's a Foraging Principle / Rule.
It's right after the rule that states 'A forager will make a record of the location where good edibles were found'.
And so it was, on one fine day in early September, I ran across three newly discovered crabapple trees with oodles of beautiful crabapples. I had to stop.
Most all of them were in really good condition so I picked them for about an hour. When the vast majority are in really great shape that's more than enough time to get a lot of crabapples. More than enough for what I planned to do with them.
Some good things about processing crabapples is that when you are after the juice in them you also end up with crabapple sauce as a byproduct, or vice versa.
And when the apples are really good so is the sauce. It is when the sauce is good that it is worth the fine tuning it takes to make it better.
I eat the sauce as a dessert with a meal or snack and I also make crabapple sauce pancakes for breakfast.
The juice is for jelly or pectin , whichever I am in short supply of.
A colander ( should be fine sieved )
A potato masher.
Muslin cloth ( or a few of them ).
3. Procedure / technique
- Part 1 -
Washing, Cooking and Rendering The Mash
If you want a good crabapple sauce you have to start with good, clean crabapples. Tadah!
I like my crabapples to be stemless before cooking. So I remove the stems, as I pick them. At the same time I pick them I check them for acceptability. I like to do that out in the field, not at home. I like the outdoors so it is part of my enjoyment in being out-and-about.
You may prefer to just pick your crabapples willy-nilly and spend your time at home sorting out and throwing out the waste.
You will be surprised on how much waste there is.
Wash all the crabapples in several changes of cold water, rubbing them between your hands in the washing process to help remove the vast majority of the blossom ends. The more you rub and wash the better the end result of the crabapple sauce.
A batch of red crabapples being washed in cold water.
Several changes of water and a good rubbing between the hands each time will do wonders in getting rid of dirt and blossom ends.
After they are all washed dump them all into a large pot of HOT water.
This is the real washing.
Leave them in the HOT water only briefly, mixing with a wooden spoon or bottle washing brush to help a bit in the extra cleaning process.
Don't leave them in the hot water long and don't let the water boil.
Some real hot ( but not boiling ) water and a bottle washing brush briskly agitated through the batch will do a great job in cleaning.
When cleaned to your satisfaction dump the water, rinse the pot and the apples, put them all back in the pot and add just enough water to cover the apples.
Add just enough water to cover the apples and slow simmer until soft.
If the temperature gets too high it is possible to burn the bottom of the batch unless you are constantly stirring.
Bring the water up to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer until very soft.
When the apples are real soft mash them up real good with a potato masher.
A potato masher works great in mashing the cooked apples.
Pour the mash into a small sieved colander / strainer. This will allow most of the pulp through but hold back the detritus such as seeds, core parts, bigger blossom pieces, etc.
A small sieved colander is needed to strain the mash.
We want a lot of the juice and pulp to get through but not the seeds, skin parts and other detritus.
Use a spoon and mix the mash that is in the colander / strainer and that will work some more of the pulp and juice through.
I would not overwork it. You can become a little to persistent and eventually you will work through some portions of the mash that you don't want in your sauce.
You can always go get some more crabapples if you want more sauce or juice.
Without mixing the mash in the colander it will just sit there.
There is a lot of pulp within that mash. That mash needs to be mixed up with a spoon so it can reach the sieves of the colander.
Spend some time mixing it.
Go To Part 2