Cooking with Crab Apples

Plant colorful, fragrant crab apple trees on your property for their beauty, as well as for the delicious fruit they produce.


Photo by Getty Images/ermingut

When our ‘Dolgo’ crab apple tree is at peak production, we dine on crab apple waffles, pancakes, bread, cobbler, muffins, and jelly. But perhaps our favorite way to use this fruit is in pies, which resemble cherry pies in both appearance and flavor. In short, just about any way you can cook with apples, you can utilize crab apples — though you’ll need to deal with the tartness of this fruit.

We’d originally bought the ‘Dolgo’ because of its reputation as a wildlife attractor, as well as for its hardiness — the tree originated in Siberia and was brought to the United States in the 1800s. To our surprise, the tree started putting on fruit at 3 years of age; by age 7, it produced gallons of crab apples. Years later, it still bears vast quantities of fruit.

Phil Gouy, owner of One Green World, a nursery in Portland, Oregon, says crab apple trees, and especially the ‘Dolgo,’ offer a great deal to backyard growers.

“Crab apples as a group are known for their profusion of blooms,” he says. “They’re outstanding pollinators of other apple trees, and the bees and butterflies they attract help pollinate other fruit trees, as well as garden plants. Crab apple trees are also very hardy and adaptable to different climates, as there are varieties that originated in North America, Asia, and Europe.”

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