Old Spiced Crab Apple (Pickled Crab Apple) Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, September 12, 1911:   Had to run around town this morning and accomplished some errands. Have to sleep with Rufus tonight as the threshers are here.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Rufus refers to Grandma’s sister Ruth. The wheat and oats would have been harvested in last July. It would have been tied into shocks and left to dry in the field. Now a threshing machine would separate the grain from the straw.

The threshing machine would have been a huge steam operated contraption –and lots of labor was required.  The owner of the machine would take it from farm to farm —and all of the farmers in the neighborhood would help.

Lots of food would have been needed to feed the men. People in central Pennsylvania used to say that a meal should have seven sweets and seven sours.  I wonder if the Muffly women made Spiced Crab Apples for one of the sours to feed the threshers.

Here’s the old recipe that I use to make spiced crab apples. In the old days a large amount of spiced crab apples would have been prepared—and some would have been canned. I’ve adapted the recipe to make a smaller amount—and just store them in the refrigerator rather than canning them.

Spiced Crab Apples (Pickled Crab Apples)

2 pounds crab apples

1 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cup water

3 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves

2 sticks cinnamon

1 piece fresh or dried ginger (approximately 1/2 inch cube)

Wash crab apples, and remove blossom ends; do not remove stems. Prick each crab apple with a fork several to prevent apple from breaking apart while cooking.

Stir vinegar, water, sugar, and spices together in a large saucepan. Bring to a slow boil. Add prepared crab apples and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and put the mixture into a large glass bowl. Refrigerate overnight.  Remove spices from syrup.

The crab apples will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

My husband really likes this recipe. He says that it tastes just like Spiced Crab Apples that his Aunt Gertrude made when he was a child–and that they bring back wonderful memories of sitting in her kitchen eating them.

Lynne and Jim–Thank you for the crab apples!