JB has always talked about how his mother made crab apple jelly and jam. The family would pick crab apples in Humboldt Park and she would cook them with plums, cinnamon, allspice, and sugar. After using a food strainer to remove seeds and skin, they would put the mixture in mason jars and cover the tops with paraffin and refrigerate. I had never tasted crab apples before, let alone cook with them.
When I got home from work today, we picked crab apples off the volunteer tree in our front yard. This last spring was the first time that the tree was spectacularly covered in blossoms. After taking the stems off the fruit, I covered the crab apples with water and simmered them for about an hour. We also threw in about a dozen rose hips we picked from the garden. Then using a spoon, I pushed the softened mixture through a sieve. Crab apples are really tart, but I didn’t want to use sugar so I cut up two apricots and two medjool dates into very small pieces. I reheated the mixture to soften the dry fruit, needing to add some more water to the mixture as well.
The results came out like a fruit butter, a very spreadable and tasty delicacy. The dates and apricots sweetened it a bit without erasing the amazing fresh tartness of the crab apples. In my arrogance I had always dismissed the crab apple as an unimportant fruit, too small to be of any significance, meant only for the birds. I have totally changed my mind. I am hooked.