Wild and Edible Crabapples
It seems that everywhere I’ve been lately, I’ve come across trees covered in ripe Crabapples. I’ve been taking advantage of this abundance and have gathered bagsful. Nowadays folks rarely seem to make use of this amazing fruit, yet it has been revered by different cultures for centuries. The Anglo-Saxons regarded it as a sacred herb which they used in their Nine Herbs Charm, which had the reputation of curing almost any ailment, as well as driving away evil spirits.
With the fruit I had been gathering, I decided to make Crabapple butter. I boiled down the fruit until it was soft and mushy then I pushed it through a fine sieve, using the bottom of a ladle. I put the used mush into a bowl and added some water, mixed it up and pushed it through the sieve again. I did this three times until I had a bowl of buttery pulp. I put this back into the saucepan and added enough sugar to take away the tartness, and sprinkled in a little cinnamon for flavor. I simmered it until it was thick, then poured my Crabapple butter into a jar.
I was wondering how I could make use of it. Both my daughter and I immediately thought of crabapple rugelach. However, as I was about to put a chicken into the oven, I decided some of the butter would make a good basting sauce.
I knew I had a Granny Smith apple, some walnuts, some Macadamia nuts, garlic and a red pepper on hand. So I made up a stuffing using the crabapple butter to bind it together, stuffed the bird and put it in the oven. An apple/cinnamon aroma permeated the kitchen and the sauce imparted a delicate flavor to the chicken.
The next day, I decided to make Crabapple rugelach. As I had gathered more fruit that morning I began by boiling it down then putting it through the sieve as I had done before. I mixed it with the crabapple butter, added sugar, chopped nuts and raisins.
I made a rugelach pastry, rolled it out into four circles, spread on the crabapple mix and cut each into 12 pie slices which I rolled up and laid out on oven trays. I brushed them with an egg and milk mix, sprinkled on some coconut sugar then put them in the oven. Twenty minutes later, I had four dozen rugelach sitting on wire racks to cool. They were seriously delicious!
Paul Tappenden is the Rockland Forager. See regularly updated blogs, videos, events, and what he and other foragers, herbalists, and naturalists are up to at www.suburbanforagers.com.