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A Taste of Fall: Homemade Pickled Crabapples

Enjoy a tasty and traditional crabapple recipe for the fall season: pickled crabapples. Recipe from Granny Smith’s Apple Cookbook by Olwen Woodier.

When most people think of crabapples, they think of small inedible* fruit. The trees they grow on are often beautiful (even ornamental), and they are excellent pollinators, but traditionally, crabapples aren’t eaten fresh. They are more likely to be used to make jellies and jams, or, in the focus on today’s blog post, pickled crabapples. Some of you might remember pickled crabapples as a side at Thanksgiving along with, or as an alternative to, cranberry sauce. Try the recipe below to enjoy your own delicious, homemade pickled crabapples!

Crabapple Tree with Fruit

Canned (Pickled) Crabapples Recipe

Preparation Time: 2¼ hours
Yield: Approximately 6 pints

You need:

  • 3 pounds crabapples
  • 3 cups extra fine granulated sugar or 2½ cups honey
  • 2½ cups cider vinegar
  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
  • 3 sticks cinnamon, each broken in 2 or 3 pieces


  1. Wash the crabapples (discard those that are blemished), wipe clean the blossom ends, and leave the stem intact but trimmed short.
  2. Prick the crabapples in 2 or 3 places with a fine skewer and place half in a large kettle. Cover with the sugar (or honey), vinegar, and water. Stir all together.
  3. Tie the spices in cheesecloth and add to the crabapples in the kettle.
  4. Cover the kettle and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the apples are tender but not falling apart.
  5. Remove the crabapples from the hot syrup and put aside. Repeat with the remaining half of the crabapples.
  6. When all the crabapples have been cooked, remove the kettle from the heat and return the first batch to the hot syrup.
  7. Allow the apples to cool in the syrup.
  8. Drain the crabapples, discard the spices, return the syrup to the pan, and bring to the boil.
  9. Pack the crabapples into pint or quart jars, cover with the boiling syrup to within ¼ inch of the tops, and screw on the lids.
  10. Process for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath.

The recipe above was excerpted from Granny Stark’s Apple Cookbook © Olwen Woodier used with permission from Storey Publishing.

*Note: There are also edible varieties of crabapple that are slightly larger and much sweeter. If you are using sweet, edible crabapples in this recipe — like Chestnut Crabapple or Whitney Crabapple — consider adjusting the amount of sweetener used (sugar or honey), since such a large quantity will not be necessary.

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