Crabapples remind me of my grandmother, who we called Cher. The antithesis of the image her famous namesake portrayed, our Cher’s garden was 5 acres packed with everything pretty like bluebells, lilac, daffodils, lavender, and particularly “old fashioned” roses. It contained seemingly endless willow houses and clematis covered rooms that could amuse us grandchildren for many hours. In that garden, she didn’t grow a lot of food, probably so she could fit in more flowers. But one edible that did rate a place were crabapples, and I’m sure it was purely based on their flowers and the beauty of their red and golden fruit.
Aside from their beauty, crabapples are a reliable and abundant crop that is easily preserved. The fact that we never see the fruit for sale, even at farmers’ markets, means that anyone without access to a tree may never be aware that they exist, let alone experience the delicious flavour of their jelly.
When we first moved into our little Brunswick house, a crabapple was the first tree we planted in pride of place out the front. That tree has been going strong for some 14 years now and even survived being smothered a metre deep with building materials for six months during our renovation. Our yields have been up and down, but mostly up and with the exception of the possum dessimation last year, I have made delicous crabapple jelly with the spoils every year. So far this season, I have picked and jellied about half the crop (3 buckets) – the rest is stil ripening. The fruit really needs no preparation before cooking – you can even leave the stalks on. There’s something a bit special about being able to grow enough of something in our tiny space to preserve it, and we savour our crabapple jelly right through the year.
Consider finding a spot for a crabapple tree in your garden!