Crab Apple Juice

We have a crab apple tree in our yard near the driveway. Every year it is loaded down with crab apples.

I do not know if it grew wild or if it was planted by the previous owners. It was here when we bought the house. It is beautiful tree in the spring when in bloom. I’ve never really known anyone to do anything with crab apples. I’ve seen them around, but always just assumed they were wild and had no use other than a home remedy for constipation.

I had seen before where they could be used to add pectin when making jelly from other fruit that required pectin.  I had just assumed that was it. But we decided to look around online to see if we could make a juice or jelly with them by themselves. We found a couple of different recipes that were all basically the same. I liked this blog post below as it provide the most information.

It sounded pretty easy so I thought I’d give it a try yesterday. I decided to cut the recipe in half.

4 quarts crab apples
5 quarts water
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cream of tartar


Since I’d never done this before I wanted to try a small batch. I also do not have a large pot big enough for the original recipe size. One recipe I found said to make the crab apple juice using crab apples 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. It even said not to use the small dime-sized ones as it may not taste good. Ours are dime-sized, but I thought I’d give it a shot any way to see.


First, I had to get the ladder out to pick some as we’ve pruned the tree to not hit cars parking in the driveway. Some of the crab apples were already too ripened or even rotten, but there were so many that were perfectly ripe.

I picked about half of a 3 gallon bucket full. I figured that would be about 6 quarts prior to removing the stems and any bad ones. The tree is so full, I can’t even tell I picked any by looking at it.



Some are almost all red and others are a mixture of red and a yellowish brown color.


Now, to wash them, sort through them picking out any bad ones, and remove the stems.  The process of removing the stems was quite tedious and did take me a while. Some of the stems would not pull off. I just left them on until it came time to cut them. As mine were so small, I decided to simply half them rather than quartering them. I also sliced off any of those stubborn stems.  Then at some point I just got lazy and stopped slicing them in half.
Then when it came time to boil them I realized that I only had room for 3.5 quarts of water. I don’t think I had 4 quarts of crab apples either after removing the stems so I just began to wing it. I really need to get a bigger stock pot!
Some of the other recipes I had found said to boil the crab apples for 15 minutes rather than simply pouring the boiling water over the crab apples. So, I thought I’d try that. I forgot to put the cream of tartar in the water first. I added the crab apples and then the cream of tartar. It smelled like apple cider when boiling. Mmmm.


Today after leaving the crab apples to soak in the water for 24 hours I strained the liquid/juice through a cheese cloth into a pitcher. I only had a gallon due to the adjustments to the recipe and the size of my pot. I took a tiny taste and it was good, but very tart. I then added sugar.



This is really more of a juice cocktail, but it is yummy. Mine turned out a light pink rather than the darker pink in the recipe. Since I only had a gallon I am just going to refrigerate it all instead of canning or freezing.

I see no issue with using the small dime-sized crab apples like ours except it is tedious. Maybe next year we will remove some of the blossoms on the tree to see if the remaining crab apples will grow a little larger.  I know you can do that with other fruit trees. I’m not sure if the size of these are due to over crowding or just this particular variety of crab apple.

There’s still a ton of crab apples out there that should be used before they go bad. Now, to find a good jelly recipe.