Crab apples hang from the branches of the author’s tree in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen)

Crab apples hang from the branches of the author’s tree in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen)

Kalifornsky Kitchen: Crab apples signal fall

My most vivid memories of eating crab apples are all natural

Fall is here. You can smell it when you walk outside. It’s the rain and the crisp chill in the morning and the light frost and dew on the grass. Fall also looks like branches of ripe crab apples on the tree in our yard. They’re dangling on the branches, bright red and ready to be picked.

The last time I picked crab apples was about three years ago, when I was living in Anchorage. We were at my boyfriend’s parents’ old house. They were moving into a new house and we took several gallons of crab apples home with us. We made applesauce, fruit leather and spiced crab apples we preserved for whiskey cocktails and other delights.

We also made candied crab apples, an idea we got from the “Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook.” The Dixon family grew up eating crab apples like they were candy apples from a fall carnival, dipped in caramel or chocolate and topped with crushed nuts, chocolate shavings or shredded coconut.

My most vivid memories of eating crab apples are all natural. During college, my friend Sasha and I would walk around campus and talk under crab apple trees, which was a big part of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s fall landscaping. She would grab one or two apples from the tree and eat them while we talked about math and men.

This fall, I won’t be starting another semester of school, but I will be picking from the tree in our yard. We’re going to try to make apple butter to share with friends. The recipe we are using is from a blog called Champagne Tastes. The recipe does require a slow cooker, so if you’re interested in making butter, but don’t have the right equipment, a quick Google search should help you find a more appropriate recipe.

Some kind of scale is also needed, whether it’s a kitchen scale or a personal scale in your bathroom. You’ll need some way to estimate about 5 pounds of apples. Sarah, the recipe’s author, says the apple butter will last one month in the fridge and six months in the freezer.

I changed the recipe just slightly, putting preference on brown sugar for its deeper molasses-ey notes, and also adding an extra 1/4 cup of it, since Alaska crab apples can be extremely tart. I would also personally add another teaspoon of cinnamon, since I enjoy it.


5 pounds of crab apples, cored

3 cups water

1 3/4 cups brown sugar

2 lemons, juiced

2 teaspoons cinnamon


1. Quarter and core the apples.

2. Add apples, water, sugar and lemon juice into a slow cooker and cook on high for about two hours, when the apples start breaking down.

3. Blend up the sauce using a stand blender or an immersion blender. If using a stand blender, return the blended sauce back to the slow cooker.

4. Cook the sauce on high for another five to six hours, until the product is thick and golden brown. Add cinnamon and more sweetener to taste. Store in the fridge or freezer.

• By Victoria Petersen, For the Peninsula Clarion

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