Eat & Drink

Catskill Crabapple Butter

Have you ever seen a crabapple tree, with it’s small cherry-like fruit hanging in big heavy clusters from every branch, and wondered, now what do you do with those?

Well, pass them by no longer. Although Crabapples are very sour and hard as a fruit to eat raw; they are wonderful when cooked and have a slightly spicy flavor. A few added to a traditional apple pie or cider can add a nice punch. In quantity however, they make wonderful jellies, jams and butters.

As the harvest season comes to an end, it’s hard to think past the plethora of fruit and vegetables at the local green markets. But I highly recommend thinking ahead towards winter, giving the humble crabapple some thought. I promise, you will be quite happy come December when all that’s available are mealy plums at your local supermarket.

I chose a simple “butter” recipe as opposed to a more refined jelly or jam. This is due to the fact that consistency of the latter will take more time and equipment. In truth I prefer a more textured home-made butter anyway. whether it be crabapple, standard apple, or any other fruit.

Apple Butter

Makes about 4, 12oz jars


About 5lbs Crabapples

1 cup honey

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp nutmeg


1.     Pick off stems and blossom ends (the dried little leaves clinging to the bottom end of fruit)

2.     Cut apples in half and wash.

3.     Place fruit in a large pot, and cover with water, and cook at medium high heat until soft (about 45 minutes to an hour), stirring from time to time to prevent burning.

4.     Pour soft fruit from the pot on the stove, into a coarse sieve, placed in a large heavy pot (the thicker bottom of the pot will help prevent burning later on).

5.     Using a large wooden spoon, mash fruit though the sieve. This will create a smooth consistency and remove the skins from the fruit. When you have only a small, dry-like lump of pulp left in the sieve (with the bulk of the fruit in the pot below) remove the sieve and discard the skins and pulp.

6.     Place the heavy pot with fruit on the stove. Then add spices and honey.

7.     Cook over low to medium heat, stirring regularly to prevent burning for about 2 hours. You want the mixture to simmer, not boil.

At this point, the Crabapple butter is ready to eat and can be served hot, cold or room temperature. My favorite way to enjoy it is spread on toast or crackers, but is also delicious added to plain yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches, or anything you can think of.

The process of making fruit butter is just as easy for a small or large amount, I usually keep one jar fresh to eat right away (it will keep in the fridge for a week or so), and then properly can the rest to save for later of give as gifts.

Canning Process

When canning, it is very important to follow the steps carefully. If done correctly, the fruit butter can keep for months without fear or mold or contamination.

Canning jars are specially made to preserve freshness and purity of food. They have a 2 part lid, a flat lid, and screw top.

1.     Place empty jars in a large pot, covered completely with water and boil for 15 minutes to sterilize them. Using tongs (not hands) lift jars out and stand them upright.

2.     Fill jars with crabapple butter only to the bottom lip of the jar (where the screw top lines begin). Using a spoon, make sure there are no air pockets in the butter.

3.     Clean excess butter from the lip and sides of the jar with a clean cloth, and place flat lid, and them screw the 2 part lids on tightly.

4.     Place filled jars upright in a large pot and fill with water until jars are completely covered. Boil for 20 -25 minutes.

5.     Using tongs, remove jars from water and set aside to cool.

Please see the links below to proper canning instructions, as I have given basic instructions, which vary from region to region, and can be used as a basic guide to canning anything from pickles to jam.

Canning Instructions

Picture of a canner

Canning boil time


Corinna Mantlo

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