Friday Fun – Crabapple Butter Deliciousness
In front of our new house we have 5 ornamental crabapple trees. I am sure they are going to be beautiful next spring when they are in full bloom. Right now the trees are laden with fruit – on a couple of the trees there is more fruit than leaves. I wish I could figure out a way to use the fruit, but the thought of trying to work with the marble-sized fruit is daunting.
Then the other day as I was walking around the pasture, I noticed a tree that was being choked out by a bunch of bushes and climbing vines. On the tree were tons of ping-pong ball sized greenish-red fruit. Now this is something I could work with!
I immediately ran home and looked up recipes for crabapples. Crabapple butter sounded so delicious that I knew we had to make it.
I enlisted the help of the kids and we picked ~12 pounds of crabapples easily in half an hour. (There is still a lot more fruit on the tree, but we need a ladder to get it).
I found this recipe for crabapple butter from Mennonite Girls Can Cook. I cut the recipe in half for a first batch and pretty much followed it (at least in the beginning). I loved the fact that the recipe allowed me to use the old food sieve my mother gave me. Up until now, I had only used it to make gazpacho. It was a lot of work pushing the crabapples through the sieve, but it was definitely fulfilling when I saw the icky paste of seeds and woody parts that were left in the sieve.
After pushing it through the sieve I decided to cook the butter down using a slow cooker instead of on the stove top. However, I didn’t know how long to cook it for using this method. I knew it was supposed to be brown, but I was afraid to go too long – especially when I saw caramelized bits appearing on the edges of the cooker and I stopped it after 2 hours. It looked like this:
and tasted delicious.
But it wasn’t the ruby-red color advertised in the recipe. And then Spouse asked me exactly what apple butter was and why it was different from applesauce. I have to admit, I was stumped. I had just chosen the recipe because I loved the sound of it!
After a little reading I learned that (crab)apple butter is an extremely concentrated form of sauce and that caramelization is desired (oops).
So of course I went back and made a second batch. This time I let it cook in the slow cooker until it was nice and brown. It took almost 5 hours and made for an unexpected late night.
I don’t know if you can really appreciate the difference with the outstanding photo quality on my iPhone, but it was a lot thicker and had a beautiful ruby color.
It was also delicious.
And now I am left with 11 jars of this deliciousness. And a case of poison ivy on my wrists (I guess I now know what those vines are).