This super simple recipe takes puckery sour crabapples and makes them sweet and delicious! I found these crabapples on a tree at Lake Snowden. My husband, Kenneth, and I were there to enjoy the Ohio Pawpaw Festival and I couldn’t resist grabbing a handful of these teeny apples to try. I love the concept of wild edibles, even if I don’t particularly care for a wild food, I still have an urge to collect it (I think in a past life I was a squirrel).
When I saw the crabapple tree, loaded with fruit, I remembered the Appetizer Recipe: Crab Apples Poached in Sweet Wine I had saved from The Kitchn. I knew that this recipe would be a perfect introduction to eating wild crabapples!
This also gave me another opportunity to try cooking with spicebush berries, also known as Appalachian allspice. I bought a packet of dried spicebush berries from Integration Acres at the Ohio Pawpaw Festival. Integration Acres also sells pawpaws, mushrooms, ramps and other forest crops. You can read more about the Ohio Pawpaw Festival and Integration Acres in my blog post reviewing the 16th annual pawpaw fest here.
Spicebush berries come from the Common Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), also known as wild allspice, Benjamin bush or just plain spicebush. Spicebush is native in the eastern portion of North America, found as far north as Ontario and New York, west to Kansas and Texas and as far south as northern Florida. It’s a medium sized understory shrub and is often found growing near pawpaw trees (try my recipes for Pawpaw-Spicebush Lassi and Pawpaw Milkshakes!).
The leaves of the spicebush are fragrant when crushed, which is a great way to help you identify the shrub in the field. I think the leaves have a spicy, citrus-y scent – it’s wonderful! The stems also have a spicy scent, if scratched. The leaves, buds and fresh twigs can all be used to make a tea.
I loved how these poached crabapples turned out! The poaching rendered them soft and sweet, with a hint of their original tartness. Kenneth was less impressed and I ended up eating the entire batch as an appetizer before dinner. To avoid eating the seeds, treat the crabapples like cherries that still have their pits.
I will definitely be making these little apples again – they’re delicious and look like little bejeweled sweets!
Makes 1 cup
- 1 cup cherry-sized crab apples, stems still attached
- 1/4 cup sweet Riesling
- 1/8 cup white sugar
- 2 dried spicebush berries
- Pinch salt
Directions: Wash crabapples and set aside. In a small pot, combine the sweet Riesling, sugar, spicebush berries and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. Once the sugar has dissolved completely, add the crabapples. Simmer for approximately five minutes, remove from heat once the skin on the apples bursts. Store the crabapples in the poaching liquid in the refrigerator. Enjoy cold!
Adapted from Appetizer Recipe: Crab Apples Poached in Sweet Wine from The Kitchn.