Saturday, August 30, 2008
CRABAPPLES-- THE FORGOTTEN FRUIT
Crabapples are tart and tangy, and beautiful to look at. Their red or pink skins turn any product you make with them a gorgeous hot pink, too! They also grow well in my area (Western BC, Canada). Unfortunately, you need to have a tree growing in your yard, or know someone who does, because they are an old-fashioned fruit and you can't find them in stores. I sincerely hope that they come into fashion again, because I see lots of possibilities for this fruit beyond jelly and spiced or pickled crabapples-- chutney, pies, sauce, fillings, juice....
The trees evidently do well even when stressed for water. It's hard to find information about the nutritional and/or medicinal benefits of crabapple, but I was sure there would be some. After all, they contain pectin, which is excellent for helping clear arteries, and fiber, and that pink color must be a source of antioxidants! Apples are one of the best sources of antioxidants, so it stands to reason that crabapples would be, too.
Brazilian researchers place apple second only to cranberries in phenolic content and antioxidant activity, so crabapples would also fall into that category. In other research, when several fruits were tested ‘in vitro’ on human liver-cancer cells, apple rated third in antiproliferation activity. They concluded that “dietary cancer prevention is proposed to provide a new alternative biomarker for future epidemiological studies in dietary cancer prevention and health promotion.”
‘Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of common fruits.’ Sun J, et al. Dept. of Food Science, Cornell Uv., Ithaca, New York, USA. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 4; 50(25):7449-54.
That tartness in crabapples indicates lots of vitamin C, as well.
A friend gave me a big bag of crabapples last week, and I finally got around to using them. I don't like making jelly and I was short on time, so I just picked through them and cooked them all, whole, in two large pots with some water until they started to burst. Then I ran them through my trusty food mill and ended up with a 20 cups of hot pink pulp! (Unfortunately, I didn't weigh the bag before I cooked them!)
I decided to use 12 cups to make a batch of crabapple butter in my slow-cooker, 2 cups to make a sorbet, and I froze the remainder for later. Both experiments turned out very well! So, if you can find someone who wants some crabapples taken off their hands, take them up on it!
The crabapple butter mixture before cooking
BRYANNA'S MAHOGANY SLOW-COOKER CRABAPPLE BUTTER
Yield: 12 cups/ 6 pints
This is the most beautiful, tangy, mahogany-colored fruit butter! It would be delicious as a change from cranberry sauce with seitan roasts and cutlets, or on sandwiches and wraps. It's east to make in a slow-cooker because it doesn't require much attention and it will not scorch. I go easy on the spices because they can get too strong after long cooking.
12 cups raw crabapple pulp (see text above)
5 cups sugar
2 medium organic oranges, grated zest and juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon ground fresh nutmeg
3/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
Combine all of the ingredients in a 6 qt. slow cooker and turn to HIGH. Cook with the lid off for 8-10 hours, or until the mixture thickens and cooks down by half.
Stir the mixture throughout the cooking, every hour or so.
When done, the mixture should mound gently in a spoon, and when you place a spoonful of it on a plate, no liquid should exude from it. The mixture will be shiny and mahogany-colored.
You can water-bath can the butter for 15 minutes in half-pint or pint jars.
Nutrition (per 2 Tablespoons): 55.6 calories; 0% calories from fat; 0.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 0.7mg sodium; 29.8mg potassium; 14.4g carbohydrates; 0.5g fiber; 10.4g sugar; 13.9g net carbs; 0.1g protein; 1.0 points.
|Sparkling Crabapple-Cider Sorbet and fresh green grapes from my stepson's garden, sprinkled with rosewater|
BRYANNA'S SPARKLING CRABAPPLE-CIDER SORBET
Yield: 1 qt.
This is super-easy to make and not only beautiful, but tangy and delicious, too!
2 cups raw crabapple pulp (see text above)
12 oz (341 mL) dry (alcoholic) or sweet (non-alcoholic) sparkling apple, peach or pear cider
2/3 to 1 cup sugar (light organic granulated) (amount depends on how tangy you like it!)
Optional: 2 teaspoons Instant Clear Jel OR 1/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum or Guar gum (See this post about Instant Clear Jel.)
Blend all of the ingredients in the blender until smooth. If the mixture is not cold, refrigerate it until it is. Process in your ice cream maker according to the directions in your manual. Scoop it out of the machine and place in a covered container. Freeze until firm before serving.
Nutrition (per 1/2 cup serving): 112.9 calories; 0% calories from fat; 0.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 2.6mg sodium; 101.4mg potassium; 29.1g carbohydrates; 0.8g fiber; 16.7g sugar; 28.3g net carbs; 0.1g protein; 2.1 points.