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American Crab Apple

American crab apple, also known as the sweet crab apple (Scientific name - Malus coronaria), is a wild apple variety with fruit that is smaller and slightly bitter when compared to regular apples. The trees remain short but are very hardy. This fruit is most often used in preserve and cider manufacture.


In early American history, crab apples were highly valued as an important food source. In fact, these used to be preserved by drying or soaking in oil for later use. At times, cooked crab apples were dried in cake form and stored. The dried fruit was converted into sauce and incorporated into corn bread. According to some sources, crab apples were often used as wedding gifts in those times. The Native Americans valued these fruits for their many medicinal and culinary uses.


American crab apples are quite high in tannin and pectin content. Therefore, these fruits are frequently made into jams, jellies, preserves and pickles. Besides, these also make for delicious apple butter. These days they are preserved by canning, freezing, and drying. Often pickled and canned crab apples are used as garnish to add a bitter-sweet taste. Pickled crab apples are often enhanced with different spices. While some of the sweeter tasting ones may be eaten fresh as such, most are too tart. At times, crab apples may be mixed with the regular apples to make apple tarts. American red crab apples may also be used to add color to regular apple jelly, which otherwise appears colorless.

The American crab apples are suitable for cider making. At some point of time, these were used as a source of cooking vinegar called ‘verjuice’. In addition to its many culinary uses, verjuice was also once used for medicinal purposes.

Owing to a high acid-content crab apples make both fresh and alcohol-based ciders which may subsequently be used in purées, sauces and glazes. These are utilized to enhance sponge cakes, tarts and crumbles; pork tenderloins as well as chicken sausages. Fermented crab apple ciders may be used in preparing batters for seafood like oysters, shrimp and mussels as also for batter-fried vegetables. Crab apple ciders pair well with fresh and aged cheeses and charcuterie (a platter/assortment of cold cooked meats).

Nutritional Value

A serving size of 1 cup raw crab apple ~ 100 g contains -

· about 84 calories

· about 22g of total carbohydrates with 17 g sugar and 5 g of dietary fiber

· 79 % water

Crab apples are low in fat and sodium (only 1 mg sodium). Raw crab apples are a good source of Vitamin C, potassium and manganese and provide small amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and copper.