Can You Eat Crab Apples? Yes! Go Ahead And Take A Bite!

It was not too long ago that I was introduced to the crab apple. My first thought was that these were not apples and then I thought, something was wrong with these fruits! How wrong I was! Soon I realized that these fruits were no less than the normal apples we love. Crab apples come in all colors and tastes and can be an interesting addition to your fruit basket!

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Generally, crab apples are too tart to eat when they are raw, but when you cook them, their intense ‘appleness’ is just incredible. These fruits are related to the standard apples though the fruits are smaller in size. The crab apples come in different varieties. The taste ranges from tangy and sour to extreme bitterness that cannot be removed even after cooking! Some are tasty enough for you to pluck and bite into right off the tree.

Are Crab Apples Edible?

The big question is, can you eat crab apples? Yes, you must try this fruit, or you would miss out on the deliciousness! Unfortunately, most of the crab apple trees are not planted for its fruits. Many varieties of crab apples are extremely sour and almost bitter, and people generally avoid eating them, and some unwitting people may take a bite only to spit it out! Though the fruits look like normal apples, they are smaller in size. The taste and appearance may put you off a little bit, and some even assume that they are dangerous, like some other wild fruits.

Are Crab Apples Toxic?

Crab apples are not toxic. The pits and seeds of these fruits like apples contain chemicals that can turn toxic, but then you are not supposed to eat these! Even if you ingest the seeds, they generally pass through the system without breaking down. You can try the mellower varieties first. Some people love the tart and sour taste of crab apples. You can use them to make some great dishes. Crab apples are perfectly edible and safe.

Can You Eat Crab Apples 2

More important is to make sure that your pets don’t ingest them. Especially dogs can fall sick after eating a couple of crab apples. Cows, sheep, horses, etc. which can not only eat the fruits in large quantities but eat the leaves and stems as well and can face some serious discomfort. 

Precautions

Though crab apples are not dangerous, if you feel apprehensive, then you can take some precautions. Take out the core, stem, leaves, and seeds thoroughly before using the fruit. These are the only parts that have slightly toxic chemicals. The flesh of the fruit is perfectly safe, and you can eat it or use it to make any mouth-watering dish. Of course, you must be careful and avoid rotten or moldy fruits, which can cause food poisoning or stomach upsets. However, that is true of every fruit.

How to Use Crab Apples?

Do remember that not all varieties of crab apples are good enough to use. Some just look good but taste horrible. There are a few recipes that you can try with crab apples.

Fresh crab apple Jelly

Fresh Crab Apple Jelly

  • Jelly: This is very popular and generally turns out great even with not so sweet crab apples. The reason is sugar! It makes the jelly very tasty, and it is a good gift option.
  • Jam: like the crab apple jelly, this is also quite a popular dish, and if you have crab apples growing in your garden, then an excellent way to use them.
  • Liqueur: if you like the apple flavor, then make this delicious liqueur with crab apples. Perfect for a relaxing evening.
  • Pickle: sweet and tangy crab apples are delicious as pickles. The only problem is removing the core takes some time and effort.
  • Butter: crab apples give the butter a pinkish hue and a tart flavor, which makes the butter taste in a different way.

If you have a big yield and have already made jams, jellies, sauce, butter, etc., etc., then it is better to freeze some for use in the future. You should rinse crab apples and remove the stem and blossom end. Freeze them in a single layer on a sheet and then transfer them to bags. You can store in the freezer for future use. You can freeze crab apple puree and juice as well. Always use proper quality containers with airtight lids.

How to Identify a CrabApple Tree

There are many varieties of crab apples, and you may find them in the wild. The fruits are plentiful and usually go to waste because people are not able to recognize them. They are in season from late summer into the fall season. Here is what you can look for:

Crabapple Tree

Crabapple Tree

  • Leaves are oval in shape and light to dark green. They turn yellowish-orange or reddish in fall.
  • Both the leaves and the fruits are in clusters.
  • In spring, when the trees flower, their blooms can be white, pink, or purplish.
  • Like cherries, the fruits grow on long stems.
  • The size of crab apples varies but is generally between ¼ of an inch to 2 inches.
  • Generally, the trees reach a maximum of up to 30 feet in height. There are some dwarf trees as well.

When Is It A Good Time to Pick Crab Apples?

You can not only look at the color and decide because some crab apples turn red when they are ripe while some turn a yellowish-orange. There are more than 1000 varieties of crab apples, and they all ripen at different times. You should start watching the fruits in August and have patience as they could take time to be fully ready only in fall.

If you want to check whether the fruits from a particular tree are ripe, then the best thing to do is cut one or two open. If the seeds are brown, you can pick the fruits. Ripe apples are also less hard when compared with raw ones. With experience, just by squeezing crab apples, you can find out how ripe they are.

Rules to Follow When Picking from Wild

You can not only look at the color and decide because some crab apples turn red when they are ripe while some turn a yellowish-orange. There are more than 1000 varieties of crab apples, and they all ripen at different times. You should start watching the fruits in August and have patience as they could take time to be fully ready only in fall.

If you want to check whether the fruits from a particular tree are ripe, then the best thing to do is cut one or two open. If the seeds are brown, you can pick the fruits. Ripe apples are also less hard when compared with raw ones. With experience, just by squeezing crab apples, you can find out how ripe they are.

  • Don’t pick fruits from areas that have been sprayed with pesticides.
  • Avoid roadside fruits that have to face a lot of vehicular pollution.
  • Take a sample of leaf and fruit to the nearest lab or ask an expert if you are not sure about the tree or fruits.
  • Don’t bite into any fruit without making sure it’s safe.

Recap

After all the information that we have shared here with you, we are sure you are ready to bite into a juicy crab apple! Remember these things:

  • Crab apples are relatives of standard apples.
  • They are smaller in size. In taste, they are sour and tart.
  • They are a good source of Vitamin C, Potassium, and manganese.
  • The seeds contain toxic chemicals just like a standard apple. Remove them before eating the fruit.You can use them to make jam, jelly, and many other dishes.

Conclusion

The Crab Apples are the ancestors of the standard apple. They have been around for ages and are full of goodness and taste. We hope that we have given you a satisfactory answer to the question, Can you eat crab apples? If you find the information useful, then do share with others. Get in touch with us with comments and ask us if you need more information. Though crab apples get sidelined when pitted against the better known standard apples, they are equally good and have their unique taste and qualities.

Hoang Quang

Hello! I’m Quang Hoang and Grow Gardener is my little nook for all the adventures, and occasional misadventures, on my journey in gardening! As I continue to awaken life in little seeds and struggle to keep flora alive, I’ll be here sharing with all of you what I’ve learned! Join me in my little garden, and let’s grow together.

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