How to Solve a Problem like…The Crab Apples

As far as I know, part of the Smallest Smallholding is sited on the remains of an old orchard, most of which has vanished in the intervening years. We have a very old, knarly Victoria plum tree, two damsons and crab apple. The crab apple, when uncovered after years of struggling to grow under 6ft brambles and bindweed, flourished and every year has provided us with a pretty impressive crop of apples.

Thing is, we never really knew what to do with them.

A few years ago the main bough had split, but as the three fruit trees were in a handy triangular position, we used them as interim washing line posts. The washing line kept the crap apple together and it seemed perfectly happy like that. It seems though that the wind and rain of late (typical English summer weather), as well as this year’s quite frankly ridiculously large crop of apples had taken its toll, and today I discovered that the largest branch was precariously hovering and swaying about. So Rich did the manly thing and sawed the bough off, leaving me to contend with breaking the branches down into firewood for the winter. Handy!

Rich and crab apple

But it seems we should have really bolted the thing together as now, we’ve lost a good third or half of the tree. Still, it seems pretty happy with what’s left. And I have less apples to contend with.


Apparently crab apples have a high content of pectin – great for jams and jellies. But to be honest, I usually leave them for the birds in the late autumn, and any left overs get slung on the compost heap. This year I was hoping to use at least some of them, so any tips or ideas of what I can do with crab apples, beside crab apple jelly, would be greatfully received!


  1. Spiced Crabapple Jelly On delia online! I haven’t made it but I did get a jar from a friend and it was fantastic with cold meats or on warm bread from the bread maker. YUMMIE

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