Spiced Crab Apples


This old world recipe of Spiced Crab Apples is truly a sign that the holidays are coming. There is nothing better than the smell of the brine cooking and all the fall spices filling up the kitchen. Make a double batch because all the neighbors will want these when they smell it coming from your house.

Photo by Spicy Saucy Vegan

I love picking the crab apples. It reminds me of being a kid on the farm and picking them for my mother for crab apple jelly. The jelly is wonderful but now we have more options in what to do with crab apples. Now I have a rather large tree with tons of loaded down fruit. So what to do? I found this old recipe in my old turn of the century Fanny Farmer Cookbook. I modified it with some research and I think they turned out really good. This recipe can be made to eat soon and last for up to 3 months in the refrigerator. It also can be canned in mason jars.

Cleaning Crab Apples

Cleaning Crab Apples. Photo by Spicy Saucy Vegan

Picking, sorting out and cleaning is the most time consuming task of this labor of love. I do this in two days. It makes it less arduous and more fun in the making process. First of all sort out any crab apples that have been infested with bests or have any holes in them. Wash and clean the good ones in fresh water. The crab apples can be covered with a whitish film over them. It is a common fungus on 30 to 50 percent of all crab apple trees. You can scrub this off with a ruff cloth or a ruff scrub sponge. These crab apples with the fungus are totally edible. When you are done cleaning the crab apples they will be bright and shinny with color.

Cleaning Crab Apples. Photo by Spicy Saucy Vegan

How To Prepare The Crab Apple For Spiced Crab Apples

When you have finished cleaning the crab apples it will be time to gently puncture them with holes with a fork. These holes are necessary because it helps the crab apples from bursting when cooking in the brine. I stick the fork in my crab apple three times in different areas of the apple. Some of my crab apples split even with the fork holes. Some crab apples are just riper then others.

When making these Spiced Crab Apples it is important not to take the core out or you will end up with a crab apple sauce. Plus, do not eat the stem, seeds or core. Just cut them open and the seeds and core will come out easily. This is a side dish that is a delicacy to be eaten with other foods and eaten slowly. Pair them up with your favorite holiday foods or vegan cheeses. These Spiced Crab Apples are perfect to bring to a dinner party or make as a present. Enjoy the process of this art and I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

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Spiced Crab Apples

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  • Author: Spicy Saucy Vegan
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 15 1x
  • Category: Appetizer, Condiment, Side Dish
  • Method: Canning Pot
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


These Spiced Crab Apples are a classic old world favorite. Great as a side to complement to any dish especially for the Holidays. It’s fall flavors of cinnamon, clove, cardamom and ginger flavors go especially nice with holiday dishes and vegan cheeses. Eat them right our out of the jar or make them as gifts for your family and friends.


Units Scale
  • 4 lbs Crab Apples
  • 3 1/2 cups Cider Vinegar
  • 3 cups Water
  • 5 cups Suger
  • 2 tsp Whole Cloves
  • 4 sticks Cinnamon
  • 12 pods Cardamom
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger (optional)


  1. Wash the crab apples in fresh water under a strainer and scrub any residue off of the skin. Leave the stems on.
  2. Gently prick the apples at least three times with a fork. This helps them not to burst while cooking.
  3. In the large sauce pan combine the vinegar, water and sugar. Keep stirring gently on and off to help dissolve the sugar and watch so that it doesn’t bubble over.
  4. Make sure to crush the cardamom pods before adding them into the pot. You can crush them with a rolling pin in a ziplock bag. Do add all the pod and seeds from the cardamom pods into the pot.
  5. Bring to a boil. Keep stirring gently. Boil for about 5 minutes.
  6. Turn down the heat to medium and add the crab apples gently as no to slash yourself with the hot liquid. Simmer for about 7 to 10 minutes. This may very depending on the size of your apples. Do not let the apples get soft and mushy.
  7. With a slotted spoon carefully remove the crab apples from the hot brine liquid and pack them into the wide mouth quart mason jars.
  8. Take out the cinnamon sticks and then pour the brine liquid with a ladle into the jars on top of the crab apples. Add enough of the brine liquid to completely immerse the fruit. Clean up any liquid on rim before adding on the lid.
  9. Refrigerate
  10. When eating do not eat the core, seeds or stem.

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