Foraged Foods Part 2

Who doesn’t love free? The beauty of foraged foods – foods you pick that grow wild that is – is the fact that it costs only your time. OK, I realize that time is money, and that my recipes require things you can’t forage to compete them (as club soda is definitely not something that grows in the wild) but come on people! Free food? I’m on board.

In my area there are soo many cool things you can eat growing outside in the woods. Last issue I spoke of Rose Hips. Today it’s crab apples. These are common all across North America and Asia and Europe and there a sooo many varieties! Crab apples are basically small apples, anything under 2 inches. Some are sweeter than others, some are more ornamental but they all have a 5 star middle just like their bigger sibling. Weird fact? Crab apples are part of the rose family (ok it’s a big family along with pears, plums, cherries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries to list a few).

Crab apples, like rose hips, have vitamin C in them but not half as much per 100 grams. What they mostly have is a very powerful flavour which can be used to create amazing jelly, jam, apple butter or… yup drinks!

One of my very good friends is a champion Apple liqueur maker. She packs jars with halved crab apples, sugar and vodka and lets them sit for a couple weeks, turning the jars every few day. But this is not something that you can substitute water for and have any success at all – just a lot of brown apples in some horrible tasting liquid. Juicing the apples is an option – if the apples are juicy enough and big enough, but if you want red sweet apple tasting liquid you gotta cook it out of them. And then let it drip and drip and never squeeze or you’ll get cloudy liquid.

Remember time is money? Well this whole process is slow and painstaking. My hubby and I went out and picked friends trees for 4 hours until we had two full bins of apples. Then we washed all the bugs off and started the process of cooking them all down. Days, yep days, later we had apple flavoured liquid ready for turning into cordial. Add sugar, cook to dissolve and bottle for winter.

How do make this at home? Here is the final perfected recipe.

Crab Apple Cordial

  •  1 kg crabapples (flowers & stem removed)
  • about 3 cups sugar

Wash then cut the flower end off the apples. Fill a pot with the apples and add enough water just to almost cover them. The apples should not be floating. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for around 15 minutes without stirring.

Strain the apples, without smashing them, through a double layer of muslin (or a cotton pillow case). Let the apples sit for about 3 hours so that all the juice passes through. Set the pulp aside for another recipe.

Measure the liquid and write down the amount. Return the apple liquid to the cleaned out pot and boil rapidly for half hour. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface, then stir in 1 cup sugar for every cup on liquid from your initial measurement. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes or until the sugar until dissolves. Pour the syrup into sterilized bottles, ready to serve. The cordial will keep for up to three months, stored in the fridge. 

This makes a great drink. 1 part cordial, one part club soda, a splash of lemon or lime juice and lots of ice. Enjoy!

Just like the rose hips from my previous post, crab apples are sweeter after the first frost. So if you are living somewhere where it hasn’t started snowing and/or freezing every night (so south of me), Happy Foraging!

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