It's crabapple season - that time of year when backyard apple trees are heavy with fruit. Most of the ones in our neighbourhood are too small to bother with pies - but are perfect for pickling. Their sweet-tart flavour goes so well with a simple sweet brine, and the resulting pickles are delicious as is or chopped and tossed into salads or sandwiches. Recently chef Liana Robberecht of the Calgary Petroleum Club added hers to creamy potato salad, and it was divine.
It seemed like a good fit with this month's Canadian Food Experience Project - a monthly event for which participants share stories about regional food experiences with the goal of bringing clarity to our Canadian culinary identity. Crabapples are about as local as it gets - they practically fall out of the tree into my kitchen window. I often preserve them by making and freezing applesauce, but these are far more interesting.
Pickled Back Yard Crab Apples
Recipe courtesy of Chef Liana Robberecht of the Calgary Petroleum Club
3 cups whole crab apples, stems, leaves removed , washed.
1/2 cup red vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon sliced
4 stems of tarragon
1 cup apple juice
4 cups white sugar
2 fresh bay leaves
salt & pepper
Place all ingredients into a pot – make sure crab apples are coved with liquid, you can add more apple juice if you need to. Bring apples & liquid to a boil – then remove pot from heat. This step you have to watch do not let to continue to boil – your apple will become mushy & over cooked. Let apples cool down in liquid.
Remove core from apples – this step is a labor of love – time consuming, but worth it. Place back into poaching liquid until you are ready to serve.