Slow Roasted Crabapples (also Pickled, and in Chutney!)


They’re coming. It’s about that time.

If you have an apple tree in your back yard, they’re about to start abandoning their post, if they haven’t already. You may have already experienced the little tarts dive-bombing your head, or they may be starting to compost themselves right there on your lawn. Don’t you love sliding through an apple that has already turned itself into applesauce on the inside? Slippery little so-and-sos.

We talked about crab apples on the Eyeopener yesterday morning. It’s a fascinating topic if you have a crab apple infestation problem. Also very cool: the Calgary Urban Harvest Project (formally Calgary Fallen Fruit Rescue Program) – a team of volunteers who will come harvest your tree, then divvy up the fruits of their labour: some for you, some for them, some for the food bank, and some for sale at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmers’ Market on Wednesday afternoons. They even do fresh-pressed-on-the-spot crabapple cider! How very cool is that?

The thing that makes people so crabby about these apples is their size. No one wants to bother peeling and coring as many as you’d need to get a pie out of it. People make jelly because you can just cook and mash them, and the cores have tons of pectin, so it sets up well. But there isn’t a jelly maker in all of us. Nor wine – a project I’ve yet to let take over my dining room. But crabapples have some selling points – they’re tart and flavourful, with potential to be more than just compost.

So what to do with them? During a spontaneous conversation on the subject in the RedPoint offices last week, someone told me about her mother slow-roasting them with cinnamon, then snacking on them by picking them up by the stem, and pulling the soft fruit off with her teeth and pulling the wee core out by the stem. What makes this even more brilliant is that you don’t even have to bother stemming them. And how easy is dumping a bunch of apples out on a rimmed baking sheet? You don’t even need to haul out your largest pot.

I tried it, and it worked, but the cinnamon didn’t stick much. For the second batch I drizzled the apples with just a tad of canola oil and rolled them around – this made the dusting of cinnamon stick, and it also gave the apples a nicely roasted exterior.

All you do to slow roast apples is spread them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle them with a bit of oil if you want, dust them with cinnamon if you want, and roast them at 300?F for an hour and a half. You may want less or more time if your apples are smaller or bigger than mine, which are about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Really, you just want to roast them until they’re soft and wrinkled. There’s no need for sugar, even though mine are tart when they’re raw – although I imagine a drizzle of maple syrup would be most fab.

Then I made chutney. I’m a fan. Chutney is easier to make than jam, if you’re intimidated – it doesn’t need to set, and is a thick, sweet-tart fusion of fruit, onions, sugar and vinegar, spiced with whatever you like – curry powder or fresh thyme from the garden. Or whatever. The beauty of a chutney is its chunkiness, which comes in very handy when you’re trying to disguise an apple core. I experimented by putting a whole whack of whole (stemmed) crabapples in the slow cooker with cranberries, onions, sugar, vinegar et al, and it cooked down into this wonderful stuff in which no one could detect apple core, which were of course pretty small to begin with. Victory.

Crabapple-Cranberry Slow Cooker Chutney

6 cups whole crabapples, stems removed
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp – 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme or sage, chopped, or 1 tsp. curry powder or paste

Put everything into the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until dark and thick; mash it all up with a potato masher or spoon, breaking up the apples. Cool completely and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months. Makes about 8 cups.

And yes, I pickled some. Because every time the topic of WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THOSE %$%#!! APPLES came up, someone’s mother or grandmother used to pickle them. And if you can pickle an onion or a beet with delicious results, why not a crabapple? I used a similar formula to the one I use for beets, and added some whole spices and rosemary sprigs, because they were there. I haven’t stored them for longer than a day so far – I’ll keep you posted. But aren’t they purdy? They need big old glass mason jars for storage – you can sometimes find them at Value Village, or at garage sales, or in my basement.

Spiced Pickled Crabapples

I don’t use measurements here because really you can pickle as many apples as you like, and the brine is made from equal parts white vinegar, water and sugar. Whole spices are put in each jar, so those numbers will depend on the number of jars you use.

crabapples – as many as you want to pickle
white or apple cider vinegar
sugar, white or brown
whole allspice berries
cinnamon sticks
whole cloves
sprigs of fresh rosemary

Wash and if you like, stem the apples. Bring equal amounts of vinegar, sugar and water to a simmer, add the apples to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes, or until just tender but not split open. Put a cinnamon stick (or half one, if they are long), a couple allspice berries and a few cloves into each jar, and a sprig of rosemary if you like.

With a slotted spoon, pack the apples into clean, hot jars, leaving about 1/2″ headspace between the apples and the top of the jar. Pour hot liquid overtop and seal. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.

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September 08 2010 10:30 pm | preserves

43 Responses to “Slow Roasted Crabapples (also Pickled, and in Chutney!)”

  1. Erica B. on 08 Sep 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    I wish I had an abundance of apples but fruit trees out here mean deer invade your yard. Yes they’re cute bu they’re scary big when you walk out on your deck with your morning coffee and they’re out there noshing on your tulips I tell you. 😀

  2. Evelyn in Canada on 08 Sep 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    Edmonton has a similar fruit rescue program (OFRE – Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton). I’ve only picked once with them and spent a day with them pressing cider, making apple sauce, juice and making packages of apples for freezing. I highly recommend the cider. It was surprisingly SO much better than steamed juice.

    I’m quickly running out of mason jars this year, so I’ll have to forgo the pickled apples. They do look beautiful and remind me of the many jars of canned crabs that my mom used to make every fall.

  3. ORIENTAL CHICKEN TENDERS CURRIED PEANUT CHICKEN | Types and Tips of Diet Recipes on 09 Sep 2010 at 1:42 am #

    […] Slow Roasted Crabapples (also Pickled, and in Chutney!) | dinner … […]

  4. Sharon on 09 Sep 2010 at 5:37 am #

    I ate the ones I had. They were sweet, crisp and delicious. I much prefer them to the apples in the stores right now, although there’s a Sobey’s here that brings in Nova Scota apples, soon. Definitely worth the trip to the store north of Southgate Mall.

    My Ukrainian grandmother did what you’ve posted. I’ve never done it, but it sounds like your recipe will be similar. She also did potted chicken. Something else you don’t see much anymore.

  5. Sean on 09 Sep 2010 at 8:25 am #

    I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (, a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It’s sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I’d love for you to submit this to the site (in particular, the pickled crabapples). Good stuff!

  6. jake on 09 Sep 2010 at 10:41 am #


    vodka, sugar, crabapples, a few weeks.

    crabtinis and other assorted autumn cocktails.

  7. colesangel on 09 Sep 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    i put crabapples in my pasta sauce. it sounds weird, i know, but i liked it. ages ago at dinner at a friends i had pasta sauce with Granny Smith apples in it. the guy that made the sauce was convinced that apples made pasta sauce better, and had been trying various types of apples for weeks. after i picked a ton of crabapples (and blackberries but that’s another story) a couple weeks ago i was thinking of that dinner for some reason. so i threw some crabapples into the pasta sauce. yum. maybe not for everyone, but i like it.

  8. Cheryl on 09 Sep 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    My parents always make juice. We grew up quite used to the giant pot in the corner of the kitchen with the apples stewing away, to be canned on some mysterious date when my Dad deemed them just right.

  9. m piebiak on 09 Sep 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    Thanks Julie. Three timely genius ideas, two of which I have never tried. I am on a big fruit leather kick lately, which requires lots of apples.

  10. eroica on 09 Sep 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    I’ve made pie with them. Take off the stems, cut ’em in half. Maybe it was a magical tree, because when the pie was cooked (I like my crust crispy and dark golden), the skin,cores and seeds were not noticeable. With a dollop of vanilla yogurt…very reminiscent of the early spring rhubarb pie.

  11. Anh on 09 Sep 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    Such a wonderful way to use up crab apples! I can only think of making jellies with them

  12. Lana in South Mountain (ON) on 10 Sep 2010 at 7:57 am #

    Hurray! I was looking for some kind of chutney thing to make now and hide away for Christmas packages and this is the one! We have a tree in our yard that didn’t produce last year, but this year has tonnes! Does it matter they are not quite crabbyapples- but just a bit bigger, and green, but still tart?

  13. Michelle on 10 Sep 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Whenever I think of crabapples, I think of the kids in my neighborhood as a kid and all the crabapple wars we used to have. Ouch. Your roasted crabapples are a much kinder (and tastier) use for them!

  14. kathy on 10 Sep 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    My grandad used to visit every fall from the east coast and pickle the crab apples from our yard. All winter, we’d have pickled crab apples with roasted pork for Sunday night dinner. Thanks for the memory!

  15. DaniB on 10 Sep 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    Does anyone know how to process whole fruit (plums) in jars in a water bath? I heard that because of the altitude of Calgary you have to boil the jars for an extra 10 minutes.

  16. Danielle on 11 Sep 2010 at 8:18 am #

    I made and canned crab apple sauce (and jelly).

  17. Julia on 11 Sep 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    I love an ode to crabapples. Useful little guys! The chutney looks delish, and I love the slow cooker version. NIce work!

  18. Julianne (Kitchen Ninja) on 20 Sep 2010 at 9:09 am #

    I was about to put out a call for crabapples in my neighborhood when I stupidly went and picked a half-bushel of various apples this weekend. Given my surplus (Macintosh, Empire, Cortland), do you think I could just use these non-crab apples for the chutney?

    And do you (or anyone else reading this) think it would be boiling-water-cannable as is?

    Thanks for all the great inspiration, Julie!

  19. JulieVR on 20 Sep 2010 at 11:02 am #

    Julianne – of course! use any kind of apples!

  20. Carol Hawthorne on 09 Nov 2011 at 5:29 am #

    I would like to purchase some crab apples. Know where I could get some?

  21. Sherri Mcgoon on 07 Feb 2012 at 7:16 pm #

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  22. Sweet and Sour – Sûres et Sucrées | Vergers de Chez Nous on 31 Aug 2012 at 4:06 pm #

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  23. Shelli on 13 Sep 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Can u can the chutney after slow cooking? Thx,

  24. JulieVR on 15 Sep 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    Yes, definitely!

  25. Tracy on 19 Sep 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Julie – Thanks so much for sharing these ideas!! I made the chutney last night and it is excellent! I canned most of it and can’t wait to have it with my Thanksgiving turkey! I took a chance and doubled the recipe (I know sometimes with jams and such the recipes don’t always double well) and it worked out just fine. I also made some jelly and some apple butter with the crab apples. I’d highly recommend the apple butter recipe I used (sharing it for thsoe that need multiple recipes to get them through the copious amount of apples to deal with):

  26. The Mat That Saved my Back (and my Preserves) | My Family Blog on 19 Sep 2012 at 8:01 pm #

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  27. Rachel In NZ on 05 Apr 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    The chutney recipe is to die for! My family all loved it and I am making up a second double batch as I write! Love that it is made in the slow cooker and no peeling or coring required. I got given these crab apples but now I want to go out and get my own tree so I can be certain of a supply for years to come! Thanks for sharing!

  28. Laura on 31 Jul 2013 at 1:07 am #

    The chutney looks delicious but I don’t have a slow cooker–any advice?

  29. Carol on 13 Aug 2013 at 9:51 am #

    With the chutney, you just remove the stems, not the cores and ends? Is this correct?

  30. Crab Apple Crazy - A Collection of Recipes | PreparednessMama on 19 Aug 2013 at 8:31 am #

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  32. Lee-Ann on 07 Oct 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    I made two batches of chutney last year and it was awesome! I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions for canning it, though – I don’t have too much freezer space to give to crab apples 😉

  33. Hank on 22 Oct 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Does one have to worry about the seeds when making the chutney? I’ve read that there are traces, although very small, of toxins in them.

  34. Merele p?dure?e | Ierburi Uitate on 23 Jan 2014 at 4:43 am #

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  35. A linen skirt for £2, Char de Crabbe & prescriptions on 02 Sep 2014 at 10:54 am #

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  36. Matthew on 20 Sep 2014 at 11:48 am #

    When you pickle by adding apples to hot fluid, they will likely burst before the 10 minutes described. FYI. I guess I will turn them into chutney. :-)

  37. Barb on 26 Jan 2015 at 2:32 am #

    I’ve just made the chutney and it is delicious. I have also made a crabapple paste/cheese which is lovely on a cheese platter. Thanks for the chutney recipe, I might try the pickled crabapples next as the parrots are not eating enough of the crabapples to thin the enormous crop this year.

  38. Julie @ Making Mindfulness on 10 Aug 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    This is perfect! Thank you. I am excited for a few of them–first the baked crab apples then the chutney for a frozen Thanksgiving prep. Thank you for writing. I am excited to follow you.

  39. Allison on 15 Aug 2015 at 12:09 am #

    made this today and can find bits of core in it. So disappointing as is so tasty. No one else found this?

  40. jane on 22 Aug 2015 at 7:52 am #

    Made crabapple chutney and the vinegar taste is overwhelming. How can I correct it.[? I have already added more sugar.

  41. barbara price on 12 Sep 2015 at 6:50 am #

    Pickled in Reisling – makes a great accompaniment to cheese trays and condiment platters during the holidays

    rough recipe:
    4 cups +/- large crabapples (must be the large ones)
    1 bottle Riesling wine
    1/4 cup white sugar (optional)
    3 cloves
    2″ fresh ginger, slivered
    1 stick cinnamon
    5 (or more) whole peppercorns
    A grating of nutmeg

    Toss it all in a pot, bring to a simmer just until the first crabapples start to split, immediately remove from heat, strain crabapples, reserving liquid. Sterilize large mouthed jars, fill with crabapples then top with hot liquid. The crabapples should be fully submerged. Refrigerate – good for at least one year. Small jars of these make great gifts.

  42. jacky on 21 Sep 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    rostaing them never thought of that before defintly will try this thankyou

  43. Le temps des pommes… et autres cueillettes | Mes filles et le monde on 29 Sep 2015 at 2:54 pm #

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