My husband and my daughters left for a little while the other day and came back with a bucket of crab apples.
Me: “Uh… what do I do with em, honey?”
Him: “I dunno. I figured you’d have some cool idea.” 🙂
Internets to my rescue! Time for my favorite thing… research!
These smell delicious. I knew I wanted a recipe that would evoke how I feel right now. I want Fall. I’m really tired of the heat. Summer, I’m done with you. It’s time for Fall. Apple butters always make me feel like the air is crisp, the leaves are crunching beneath my feet, and the most delicious smell of spiced everything fills my house. So, I decided that crab apple butter was going to be my first venture into canning! My first! I gotta say, it was a MAJOR success.
I am hooked.
After doing some foodie research, I started by following the advice on this video to take the extra time to put some love into my butter. I cut off the blossom ends, took off the stems, and cut them in half to better access the natural pectin in the seeds. I put them in a bit of citrus water to keep them from browning as I cut them. It didn’t take too long, especially the second time around when my hubby helped. I strained off the water, weighed them to assess how much sugar I would need, and added them to a big pot with 1/2 a cup of water per pound of crab apples. I cooked them until they were soft. I decided to use my hand blender to make everything like applesauce, help things along. Then I put it through my strainer, but if you had one of those applesauce grater-things, that would probably be good too.
I added the sugar, 1 cup for every 3 pounds of crab apples, then the spices. In all the recipes I researched, they didn’t seem to have enough spices. So I doubled or even tripled what I had seen called for. It was a good choice too. In the recipe I’ll give you at the end, I’m going to give you the very least of the spices, but more is better, take it from me. Also, I didn’t have ground cloves so I put in whole cloves, which I later had to fish out (annoying!). But the second time around I left out the cloves entirely, and I liked it better without cloves. What you use is up to you.
This goes on the stove to simmer uncovered for two hours. I know, it seems like a long time. But it gives the crab apple butter a chance to thicken, lose some water, meld flavors, and whatever else it does. So we went outside to take pictures of the sunflowers, and the bumblebees who had decided that the sunflowers are delicious. Little beauties!
After the two hours were up, things were looking pretty much like I thought apple butter should look like. I then canned the crab apple butter in half-pint jars. I found the recommendation for boiling apple butters according to safe home canning procedures. I don’t want to be responsible for killing anyone.
This is a beautiful, versatile, and delicious recipe that will help you herald Fall each year. I know it will become a yearly tradition for our family. My house smelled delicious. The whole family got involved. It was a wonderful way to start my canning journey.
I’m going to give you relatively small amounts of ingredients for this recipe because I always find it easier to multiply a recipe than to divide it. Here’s the recipe….
Spiced Crab Apple Butter (for canning)
3 pounds of crab apples, free from holes or bad bruises, stems and blossoms removed
1 1/2 cups water for boiling (more for canning later)
1 cup white sugar *
at least 1/2 tblsp ground cinnamon
at least 1/2 tsp ground allspice
at least 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
(optional) 1/2 tsp ground cloves
*I don’t know of a sugar substitute to use in place of white sugar when canning. I have found that you can use a light honey, just cut down the amount of water you use. For those who are diabetic and want a sugar substitute, I’m sorry! I haven’t seen anything that compares to what sugar does in jams, jellies, and fruit butters. Using Splenda is apparently not recommended if you want to store jams and jellies, since odd things can happen, separation and taste changes, etc. Everything I see says to just leave out the sugar. This recipe needs sugar since the crab apples are so very tart. If you know of an alternative, please let us know all about it in the comments!)
1.) Cut off blossom end, cut in half, the pick off stems of ripe, reddish crab apples. Leave seeds and cores. Seeds are where much of the the natural pectin is. Weigh the crab apples, add water, then boil until soft stirring now and then.
2.) Strain out seeds. Add the crab applesauce back to the pot. Add the sugar and spices. Taste. Add more sugar/spices if desired. Your crab apple butter should taste sweetly tart like cranberry sauce. Cook on medium-low for two hours, stirring now and then.
3A.) Spoon crab apple butter into clean, sanitized jars leaving a bit of head space. Seal with a new, clean lid. Add rings, lightly tightened. Leave these on the counter for 24 hours then store in the refrigerator to eat within the next couple of months.
3B.) Process jars according to safe home canning procedures. Here is the info for apple butters:
|Table 1. Recommended process time for Apple Butter in a boiling-water canner.|
|Process Time at Altitudes of|
|Style of Pack||Jar Size||0 – 1,000 ft||1,001 – 6,000 ft||Above 6,000 ft|
|Hot||Half-pints or Pints||5 min||10||15|
This page has a wonderfully comprehensive rundown on canning apple butters if you think you need a little more information than I have given you.
Disclaimer: If canned incorrectly, Clostridium botulinum is a real and dangerous risk. Pen Pals and Cookin’ Gals is not responsible for how this recipe is used, use of poor canning practices, or canning errors.