Fed up of endless yearly Jelly-Making…Indeed, does it not seem a pity to see the fruits thrown, only the liquid kept, not to mention the vast amounts of sugar demanded? I was delighted to come across a recipe for pickling Crab Apples. The idea came from quite one of my favourite forage books: Suzanne Beedell’s Pick Cook and Brew… I picked it up second-hand on the Charing Cross Road years ago, the name alone won me over, and at the time I thought it a gift suited to my father. It has since been relinquished, and found a home in the cottage here as if meant to be. It's particularly appropriate, as the forager herself lived in North Norfolk - what she found in the seventies can likely still be found locally today.
So, amidst recipes and illustrations for Crab Apple Pudding, Crab Apple Wine…there I read: Crab Apple Pickle. An incorrigible pickler, this could not fail to whet the appetite.
I altered her recipe to suit me, and pickled as follows:
Heat 750ml Cider Vinegar, 250ml Apple Juice, 600g Sugar in a pan stirring until sugar dissolves. Add 1kg Crab Apples, washed, the blossom end removed, I chose to keep the stalks on an aesthetic whim. The liquid should cover the Crab Apples. Add 2in. grated Root Ginger, a few Cloves and Peppercorns, 3 All Spice, 3 Star Anise, 2 Cinnamon Sticks,1tbsp Mustard Seed, and her recipe also calls for garlic cloves wrapped in muslin, to be removed at the end. (The terrible stench of pickled garlic made me think I would choose onions on another occasion). Simmer until Crab Apples are tender. Pot fruit in sterilised jars and reduce syrup if necessary. Pour syrup over Apples, making sure they are well covered. Seal immediately. Leave a few months to mature before eating.
These beautiful pickled yellow fruits would look glorious adorning Beast and Fowl in winter months. Try also on a Cheese Plate, with Pork, even Suckling Pig. A sharp bite they make a statement both in taste and looks, cutting through fats and rich flavours… I cannot recommend enough for adding a touch of the ostentatious, the extraordinary, the medieval to a winter banquet.
For other alternate Crab Apple uses, see: Hedgerow Syrup and Carl Legge’s Blackberry Chutney. Carl also has a recipe for DIY Cider Vinegar, hope maybe to get to that this afternoon..
I also pickled some beautiful tiny Epicurean Apples. These were windfalls, and have a great flavour, but are small enough to fit whole in pots. I used this Recipe, which I used for the Pear windfalls of last year, only replacing the distilled vinegar with White Wine Vinegar and adding some All Spice.
Follow this link for all the Chutney and Pickle Recipes on this blog.