Serves: Makes 4 pints
- 1 (3-inch-long) cinnamon stick
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 4½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups water
- 2½ cups cider vinegar
- 2 pounds (about 8 cups) crabapples
Procedures:This recipe will be ideal for the cook with a crabapple tree in the yard or in a friend’s yard! However, during the fall months, you’ll also often see crabapples for sale at farmers’ markets. These small, adorable, blushedred apples are too hard and tart to eat out of hand, but they make incredible jams and jellies. My favorite way to preserve them is to pack them into jars whole and then fill the jar with a spice-infused, sweet pickling liquid. Once processed, these rosy orbs are suspended in a transparent, pink-tinged liquid—delectably cute and wonderful for gift giving. They are perfect with charcuterie and make a terrific accompaniment to roast pork and poultry.
- Wash the jars, including the lids and screw bands, in hot, soapy water. Alternatively, run the jars through the regular cycle of your dishwasher; wash the lids and screw bands by hand. Bring water to a boil in a water bath canner. Sterilize the jars and lids.
- Place the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, and peppercorns on a square of cheesecloth and tie securely with kitchen twine to form a spice bag.
- In a 6-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the spice bag. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the crabapples and pat dry with paper towels. Using kitchen shears, snip the stem ends, leaving ½ inch intact. Using a skewer, prick each crabapple in several places. Set aside. (This allows the spiced syrup to permeate the crabapples and reduces the amount of bursting when the fruit is heated.)
- Add the crabapples to the pot and simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon and wide-mouth funnel, pack the crabapples into the hot, sterilized jars, leaving a generous ½-inch headspace. Ladle the hot syrup into the jars, covering the crabapples and leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles by running a long wooden utensil, such as a chopstick or wooden skewer, between the jar and the syrup. Wipe the rims clean. Seal according to the manufacturer's directions. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes, and then turn off the heat. Wait 5 minutes, and then lift the canning rack and, using a canning jar lifter, transfer the jars to a sturdy rimmed baking sheet lined with a double thickness of paper towels and let them rest. (Use paper towels rather than a cloth kitchen towel because the liquids might weep a bit and turn the cloth pink.) Check the seals, wipe the jars, and label.
Storing: Store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.