We came home with two bags of crab apples from a friend's tree last week and I got busy trying to find good recipes to use them up. I tried a crab apple bread but it just tasted so-so to me (I think next time I'll finely chop them and put them in a banana bread for a better taste combination). So I decided to just tinker and it worked out fabulously!
I came up with a dead easy way to make crab apple cider and it looks and tastes divine. Victoria said it was just like red kool-aid (a compliment and a rare treat as far as V is concerned!) but I would say it's more like a cross between apple cider and lemonade, only ruby red with just a hint of spice. And that bright red color means lots of disease-fighting, vitamin-rich nutrients too!
Here's the recipe.
1. Find yourself a friend with a crab apple tree. Pick a bunch!
2. Wash them and use a paring knife to cut a wedge off (avoiding the stem and blossom end), then cut off another side and another, till you have the core with the top and bottom left. Avoid wormy spots or bad areas. If the trees have not been sprayed there's likely to be lots. Oh well! It's organic that way and it's still free food. ;)
3. Put them in a big pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer the heck out of them until they are very tender and they have lost much of their color.
4. Line a strainer with some cheesecloth (optional) and scoop it into the strainer over a big bowl. Squeeze the juice out of the crab apples and use them for baking if you like (they'll taste like wimpy cooked apples at this point but will be divine in Mix and Match Quick Bread... holler if you want that recipe!).
5. Return the liquid to the pan and add sugar to taste. Bring back to a simmer to dissolve the sugar and add water if it's too strong. If it's not strong enough, simmer to reduce it until it's just right. Serve warm or chill.
It tastes divine, it's practically free to make and it's LOADED with fabulously healthy stuff. And it's pretty. You can't beat that! :)