Inventory, lb : 0.53
This item was last sold on : 12/24/16
European crabapples grow on large trees that average 36 feet in height and 24 feet wide. The shape can be somewhat irregular and gangly, and the branches can develop thorns. The so-called ‘crabby’ appearance of the tree may have led to its common name. European crabapples are typically yellow-skinned with the occasional red blush. The fruits swell to the size of large blueberries or small grapes at the end of short stems. The apples have an almost cherry-like appearance. The small wild apples are acidic and have a sour flavor. If left on the tree past the first frost, the taste is said to get sweeter.
Crabapples are available in the mid-fall and into the winter months.
European crabapples are a wild variety of apple known botanically as Malus sylvestris. In 2012, researchers concluded that the European crabapple is a major genetic contributor to what we know today as the domesticated apple. The European variety is descended from wild apples in central Asia, or what is now the rugged mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the former Soviet Union. The name ‘crabapple’ generally refers to any apple that measures under 2 inches in diameter.
Crabapples contain high amounts of phenols, and antioxidants, they are also rich in vitamin C and fiber.
European crabapples are generally cooked prior to eating, due to the taste and texture of the raw fruit. Crabapples are used most often for their high pectin and acid content, which makes them ideal for jams and jellies, but also a good substitute for pectin in other jams. The tart crabapples pair well with raspberries and blueberries. Make crabapple jelly and for an extra kick add a few small chiles. Crabapple juice can be used in cocktails, ciders and ales. Roast halved or whole crabapples alongside meat, for a tart addition to brine or marinades. Crabapples do not keep well and should be used within a week.
Crabapples have appeared in literature and writing throughout history, namely in two of Shakespeare’s plays: A Midsummer Night's Dream and Love's Labour Lost. The wood of the crabapple tree has a pink tinge and a sweet smell. The wood was burned in fertility rites and religious ceremonies by the ancient Celts of Britain. The wood is also used for making furniture and is ideal for carving and turning.
European crabapples are native to Central Europe, their range extending from the United Kingdom in the northeast to Turkey in the Mediterranean. Researchers mapped the genome of the domesticated apple and discovered that the European crabapple variety is descendant from the species Malus sieversii, which is native to central Asia, in the western Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan. This area, which also includes Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan is home to over 300 wild fruit and nut trees. It is the area where apples were first domesticated. From this fertile region, apples moved along the Silk Road with traders and travelers. M. sieversii is highly variable, and traits for many different varieties exist in the fruit of this wild species. In Siberia, the native wild apple species is Malus baccata, and further along the trade route, native to the Caucasus region is M. orientalis. Crabapple trees are very hardy, so much so, that for centuries apples have been grown by grafting new growth onto the rootstock of the Siberian crabapple. Some botanical groups are working to preserve the variations in the original fruit, as well as to increase the genetic diversity of apples that we know today by protecting the Malus sieversii species from extinction. European crabapples still grow in the wild and are cultivated in some areas of Europe and the United Kingdom. There is very little mass commercial value for these fruits, so they are more likely to be found through small farms and growers at local farmer’s markets.