pickled crabapple

Spiced Pickled Crabapple Recipe: A Delicious Taste of Autumn

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Autumn-Spiced Pickled Crabapple

Spiced Pickled Crabapples are delicious and make a really nice addition to a meal with pork or poultry. Or just as a snack! Crabapples are tart and bitter when eaten raw, so few people bother with them.  But I’m here to tell you that this pickled crabapple recipe is an excellent and delicious way to use a surplus of crabapples in the fall. 

You know I love to forage and preserve wild food: jams and jellies, pickles and chutneys, even fruit leathers. And right now, the produce that inspires me to learn new ways to make homemade preserves is autumn’s wild crop of crabapples. Those rosy orbs have an intense tartness, a sweetness, and a fruitiness that makes my mouth water in anticipation. 

You also know that I love finding new ways to prepare foraged foods, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with this recipe. 

I love old recipes, because they give me a chance to try new things in the kitchen and they make me feel nostalgic for a simpler time. This spiced pickled crabapple recipe goes back to the days when families would make use of and preserve every bit of food available to them, and is something I try to do. 

pickled crabapple

Where Do I Find Crabapples?

Crabapples are easy to spot if you know what to look for. They are actually quite common and grow in many New England environments; people love to put them in cemeteries, parks, abandoned orchards, former homesteads, open woods, thickets, old fields and near hiking trails.

What To Look For

The crabapple tree is a beautiful, small- to medium-sized tree with a rounded crown and many branches. It can stand anywhere from 5 to 30 feet tall with an equal to greater canopy spread. And even though many hybridized varieties exist, it’s not necessary to distinguish the actual variety; identifying the Malus genus is sufficient.

Crabapple leaves are oval, tapered at both ends, and grow alternately on long stemlets in clusters that alternate along branches. Some varieties have sharper teeth than others, depending on the species of crabapple. Crabapples come in many colors with pale speckles, coarse brown or yellowish blotches—all of which are edible, though some varieties taste better than others. Foragers should sample them before harvesting to determine quality.

Are all crabapples Edible?

Crabapples are often overlooked but are such a fascinating part of the wild food landscape. The short answer to your question is yes, all crabapples are technically edible. However, the term “edible” can be a bit misleading. While they’re not poisonous, some varieties can be incredibly tart or astringent, making them less than palatable when eaten raw.

The best way to know if a crabapple is good for eating or cooking is to taste it. If it’s too sour or bitter, don’t worry; cooking can work wonders.

Making the Recipe

Here’s the old recipe that I use to make spiced pickled crabapple. The original recipe called for a large number of crabapples, but I’ve adapted it so that it makes a much smaller amount, which I store in the refrigerator rather than canning them. 

I love that this recipe uses traditional autumn spices like cinnamon, ginger, and clove.  This makes this pickled crabapple recipe perfect for autumn meals.  In fact, I plan to serve it as a side during our upcoming autumn equinox Mabon gathering.  I think they’ll be a big hit!

pickled crabapple

Autumn-Spiced Pickled Crabapples

Barbi Gardiner
Our spiced pickled crabapples are an old-fashioned pickling recipe that’s full of the best flavors of fall and are the perfect accompaniment to any Thanksgiving meal. Whether you serve them as a side or just eat them straight from the jar, these pickled crabapples are sure to be a hit!
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Condiment
Cuisine American


  • 2 pounds crab apples
  • 1 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 piece fresh or dried ginger approximately 1/2 inch long


  • Wash the apples well, leaving the stems intact.
  • If working with larger crabapples (1-2 inch diameter), gently prick them all over with a fork or the tip of a small sharp knife. This prevents them from bursting while simmering. There's no need for this if your crabapples are a smaller variety (less than an inch in diameter).
  • Stir vinegar, water, sugar, and spices together in a large saucepan. Bring to a slow boil. Add prepared crabapples and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the apples from the hot liquid and pack them into your jar or jars.
  • Strain the pickling liquid and then pour into the jars, completely immersing the fruit. Let cool and then cap and refrigerate.
  • The apples can be canned, as well, for longer storage.


Makes 1 quart
The crab apples will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Keyword pickled crabapple, pickled crabapples, spiced crabapples
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

So if you’re looking to add some fun and flair to your meal, this is a good recipe to go with. It’s delicious, tastes wonderful, and the pickled flavor adds tang and crunch, which makes for a memorable accompaniment to any meal. If you want to spice up things around your house this autumn, try out this pickled crabapple recipe today!

Here are a few more recipes you might like:

pickled crabapple

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