This is great for Fall when sweet, pretty, miniature crab apples start showing up in the produce department. From Dr. George York of the University of Southern California at Davis, I got the following advice on how to make spiced crab apples. This has several steps, but it’s mostly passive: you do one step and then wait. Don’t be put off by the multiple steps. It’s worth it.
Optional: Canned beet juice
Place crab apples in a salt solution of 1 quart water and 2 tablespoons salt for 2-3 days to allow better penetration of the vinegar mixture. Make enough salt solution to cover the amount of crab apples you are spicing.
After 3 days, remove the fruit and rinse with water. Make 2.5 percent vinegar solution. Since household vinegar is 5 percent. Dilute it with water, i.e. 1 quart vinegar to 1 quart water. Add fruit to vinegar solution.
Add sugar to mixture. You add as much sugar as you have vinegar. If you have used 1 quart of vinegar (4 cups), add 4 cups of sugar. If your hackles go up at the thought of adding this amount of sugar, remember what we’re concocting here isn’t going to be served as a main course, but as a garnish with perhaps one small apple per person. Heat mixture about 5 minutes until apples begin to soften. Cool.
Add spices such as ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Taste for seasoning.
Let sit in refrigerator for 5-7 days. This can either be eaten or used immediately. If you want a brighter red color, use juice from canned beets to color; this is a matter of personal preference since the naturally colored golden-red apples are also nice.
This is a recipe from my book The Good Food Compendium - An indispensable guide to sensible nutrition and eating pleasures for those who care about fine fare and wholesome living.