Spiced Pickled Crab Apples

niehoff/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 30 servings
Yield: 14 to 16 pints
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
288 Calories
0g Fat
73g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 30
Amount per serving
Calories 288
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 18mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 73g 26%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 47g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 10mg 48%
Calcium 69mg 5%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 338mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Crab apples trees are ornamental with beautiful flowers that produce fruit that looks like miniature rosy-red apples. They share a common heritage with apples; however, their extremely tart taste and hard flesh bear no resemblance to that sweet, crisp hand fruit that is touted to keep the doctor away. At a very basic level, an apple is larger than 2 inches in diameter, while fruit that is smaller than 2 inches in diameter is a crab apple.

Turn your next crab apple harvest into succulent spiced crab apple pickles, with vinegar, sugar, and spices, and can them for longer storage. Spiced pickled crab apples are the perfect ​condiment for roasted pork and poultry.

Before you attempt any home canning project, review canning safety.


  • 6 cups apple cider vinegar

  • 8 cups brown sugar, packed

  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves

  • 3 sticks cinnamon

  • 8 pounds crab apples, washed, stems left on

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large nonreactive pot, mix vinegar and sugar until brown sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil.

  3. Put cloves and cinnamon sticks in a cheesecloth bag, and tie with a string.

  4. Add crab apples and spice bag to the pot, and boil until apples are tender.

  5. Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon, and pack into hot sterilized jars. Add the boiling syrup to within 1/2-inch of the top. Seal.

  6. Process crab apples in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

  7. Remove from canner and place on a towel-lined counter and let come to room temperature. Listen for the suction pop indicating a good seal. When cool, tighten the bands and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to one year.


  • From 1,001 to 3,000 feet altitude, process for 25 minutes. For 3,001 to 6,000 feet in altitude, process for 30 minutes. Higher than 6,000 feet, process for 35 minutes.
  • Apples range from sweet to tart and can be eaten raw or cooked. Crab apples have a flavor varying from tart to extremely tart and cannot be eaten raw. Apples are often turned into hard cider, but crab apples don't contain enough sugar to be fermented into alcohol.
  • Common uses for crab apples include jellies and jams because of their high pectin content, but they are also used in crab apple butter, a spread that doesn't rely on pectin. Crab apples also find their way into desserts like crab apple pie and pickles, all of which require significant added sugar to be palatable.
  • Instead of turning a windfall of crab apples into compost, although that's an excellent idea, get creative by drying them and making fun fall craft projects, wreaths, or witch-head puppets.

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