Maraschino Spiced & Pickled Crab Apples

Okay, okay. So they aren't really maraschino crab apples. No, they won't be like those over liqueured cherries that you find skewered on pastel cocktail swords afloat in Shirley Temples. Sorry folks... THESE ARE BETTER!  Bejeweled little ruby delights these glamour bombs are a visual stunner and will have your taste buds wishing you had preserved more!

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some fall crab apples I repeat, use this recipe. Preserve them now and you'll have wonderful winter gifts for friends.  Or hoard them all for self indulging pleasure. Personally I try and find a happy medium between these two extremes. DIfficult, but doable.

The basis of the recipe consists of sugar, vinegar and spices. Super easy. They take a bit of time but carve out a good 2-3 hour window and you'll thank yourself when the winter months come. Honestly, the day you use your last jar, will be a tragic day. Prepare the bon bons and bubble bath in advance.

Alright, enough of my bantering. Get going and make them already!!! Recipe follows photos.

Note: For those of you that may have noticed my lack of posting for the past 6 months don't worry. I'm back!!! More exciting Urban Nettling is all ready and waiting. Stay tuned!!!

Maraschino Spiced & Pickled Crab Apples

Makes 8 pints

approximately 10-12 cups unpeeled crab apples stems on

4 cups of apple cider vinegar

2 cups water

5 cups sugar

spices:

1-2 each: cinnamon stick, bay leaf & star anise

1/4 teaspoon of each: black peppercorns, coriander, cloves & allspice

1. Before you begin, make sure that your pint jars have been sterilized and there is hot water ready and waiting for preserving in your canner.

2. Wash the crab apples making sure to remove the bruised and blemished ones.  Once rinsed, set aside. Optional: If you want you may prick each individual crab apple with a fork to prevent them from cracking and partially bursting during the boiling/canning process. This is NOT necessary but if you want perfect specimens for blue winning state fair entries you SHOULD do this step.

3. Pour the vinegar and water into a large cauldron and bring to a boil. While waiting for the liquid to boil, wrap and securely tie the spices in a cheese cloth bundle that has been double lined. Once to a boil, reduce the vinegar/water solution heat slightly and add the  sugar and spice satchel. Stir constantly till the sugar has dissolved for approximately 5-10 minutes

4. Now take the crab apples and dump them into your large soup pot or cauldron. Turn the heat up till they begin bubbling, stirring constantly. When over half the apples appear  to have cracks forming on them, about 5-10 minutes, immediately remove them from the heat and pack into sterilized jars. (I prefer ones that have "shoulders" to hold the crab apples in the liquid). Top the jars to half inch below the rim with the syrup.

4. Top the jars with rims, seal and process for 20 minutes according to manufacturer's instructions.  Wait time on this little gems is 4-6 weeks but you could crack one at 2 weeks time and sample.