07 September 2010

Fruit of the Day: Crab Apples

If you've been following the saga at Ultra Fine Flair, you knew this was coming.

A crab apple, not to be confused with a non-crab apple apple, can't make up its mind. Most days, it's a useless fruit that falls into someone's lawn in Southwestern Ontario or the Northeastern United States, and, much to the chagrin of Bills-loving homeowners, rots. Occasionally (and unfortunately, much more rarely), it's a fruit that smells mouth-wateringly sweet, tastes mouth-puckeringly tart, and produces an abundance of juice that can be coaxed, through various stages involving de-stemming, boiling, sugaring, and filtering through cheesecloth, into an electric red and very tasty jelly.

Despite their proliferation in backyards this time of year, crab apples are apparently hard to come by. We visited farms, farm stands, and farmers' markets. I think that was our biggest mistake, actually, because nobody grows these trees on purpose. We'd have been better off visiting area yard sales and surreptitiously gathering the fallen fruit (possibly while simultaneously haggling over the price of a toaster). We finally found some, and negotiated a price of $25/bushel.

Note: A bushel is more than you'll ever need. Even my Special Ladies could only use half. It broke my heart a little to see the rest of that fruit rotting, but we do have enough crab apple jelly for the duration.

In the interest of research, I grabbed a few to photograph and taste. We even took some to the beach!

We both sampled a crab apple. This particular variety smells sweet and tastes tart, although not inedibly so. They're not the most efficient snack, though, unless you have a very small mouth.

Ken opted to eat a plum instead. It was very pretty inside.

A local seagull, however, was not so discriminating. After I chucked an excess crab apple onto the sand beside me, he nabbed it and ran off. À chacun son goût.

UFF Fruit Rating: