Kevin West joins Evan to talk apples. While many of us think of apples as a fall fruit, apple season has already begun. From pie to juice to sauce to jelly, with their countless varieties and flavors, apples are kitchen chameleons. Below is a recipe for Whole Preserved Crab Apples from Kevin’s book, Saving the Season.
Yields 1 quart
Sweetened with quince jelly and flavored with Calvados, these Whole Preserved Crab Apples are pretty enough to be an edible garnish. Take the trouble to prick the skin of each fruit, and cook them very slowly to decrease splitting. Despite your best precautions, some will crack open anyway. Don’t fret. They’re fine to use, and no one else will care. Different crab apple varieties can be nearly sweet, or quite tart. Add more jelly if you have very crabby fruit. You can multiply this recipe to match your quantities.
1 pound crab apples
4 cups water
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
1/2 cup apple, crab apple, or quince jelly, or a generous 1/4 cup sugar (more to taste if the crab apples are very tart)
2 tablespoons Calvados or other brandy
A few springs fresh thyme
- Wash and stem the crab apples, and prick each one in four places with a skewer or trussing needle. Place them in a small pot, and cover with the water. Slowly heat to a bare simmer, and maintain the same low heat for 25 minutes, until the crab apples are cooked through.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the crab apples to a bowl to cool. Turn up the heat, and reduce the cooking water to 2 cups.
- When the crab apples are cool enough to handle, trim the blossom end from each one in the following way: Stick the tip of a very sharp knife into the base of the fruit, alongside the blossom remnant. Holding the knife steady, rotate the apple a full turn against the blade’s edge, and a small cone of the flesh around the calyx will left out. Pack the trimmed apples into a prepared quart jar, leaving a generous 3/4 inch headspace.
- When the cooking liquid is reduced to 2 cups, add the vinegar, jelly, and Calvados, and stir until the jelly is completely melted. Bring to a boil, and ladle the hot syrup over the crab apples to cover, leaving 3/4 inch headspace. Tuck a few thyme springs inside the jar, seal, and process in a boiling-water bath for 20 minutes.