Wild Harvest | Crabapples

Crabapples are so cute to look at! Is that a really girly thing to say? They're like regular apples, only smaller. Which is why I really enjoy foraging for them and using them in preserves.


Where can you find Crabapple Trees?

Wild Crabapple trees (Malus sylvestris) can be found pretty much throughout all of Europe. One of the interesting thing about Crabapple trees is that it's quite normal to find only one of them in a woodland, they don't tend to grow together. They like really rich, heavy soil and can be found in woodlands and hedgerows.


How to Identify a Crabapple tree

The crabapple tree is very gnarled and uneven in appearance. Whereas some woodland trees have a nice balloon shape to them, the crabapple has bits and bobs bulging all over the place. It has very rough bark which can be brownish/greyish/browny-greyish in colour. The leaves are oval shaped with small teeth around the edge and appear very glossy. The tree produces colourful, sweet smelling blossom in spring and small fruits in the autumn. Crabapples come in many different varieties and can be a range of different colours.

When to harvest Crabapples

There are many, many varieties of Crabapple and each one will harvest differently according to the variety and also where it is. In general they will be ready to harvest in Autumn. There are a few ways in which you test the fruit for ripeness. You can squeeze it, if the fruit is rock solid then it needs another couple of weeks but if it has a little bit of give then it is ripe. Or, you can cut the fruit open and check the seeds. If the seeds are brown then the fruit is ripe.


What to do with Crabapples

Crabapples being very small are extremely sour raw straight off the tree and there are very few people who can eat them raw. They are much better used in jams, jellies and liqueurs. 


Remember to forage responsibly.


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