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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

The Last Big Push to Get Everything Harvested

Our weather turned much, much colder this week. Next week, we may have snow and rain mixed. Some items (like cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, turnips) will hold in our garden through a light dusting of snow and no prolonged freezing temps. But there's the more tender produce that needs to come in. I got the last of the green beans harvested, as well as the last of the carrots. I want to use the carrot tops as well as the roots, and I wasn't sure how snow would affect the tops. They're harvested now, the roots are stored and the greens are washed and wrapped in a tea towel in a plastic bag for me to chop and freeze tomorrow. All of our squash and pumpkins (the few there were) are in now, too.

I'd been putting off harvesting the crabapples this year. Our cool spring meant a late ripening. This morning I noticed the leaves were beginning to turn yellow on that tree and the crabapples looked as ripe as they were going to get.

Everyone was home this morning, so I sent out an all hands on deck. It took 4 of us 1 and 1/2 hours to pick them all. If it had just been me, I would have spent all day harvesting crabapples. Once they were picked, I processed the first half of the batch into crabapple sauce and crabapple juice.

I made some hot spiced apple cider with some of the juice, some regular apple juice, part of a cinnamon stick, a few whole cloves and a little sugar to compensate for the tartness of the crabapples. I froze several quarts of crabapple sauce and 2 quarts of juice. Tomorrow, I'll process the other half of the crabapples.

These are long and tiring days. However, there's an element of satisfaction that makes it all worthwhile. 


  1. You've been busy! No experience here with crabapples so I didn't know they could be used for juice and sauce and such, though I have heard of crabapple jelly. Good for you on getting all those things harvested and working on the processing and preservation.

    Looks like the end of next week will be our big cooldown and a potential frost. I'm trying to let the fall potatoes and one last bed of sweet potatoes stay in the ground as long as possible, and will be backpacking next week and not around to harvest till the weekend anyway. Other items to get harvested soon are the Roselle hibiscus for teas, a few green beans, and the rest of the Vietnamese bottle gourds and Tromboncino squash.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Good luck getting everything harvested! Are the bottle gourds edible or do you grow them as an ornamental? I looked up that variety of squash. Interesting looking!

      I make crabapple jelly every other year, depending on if someone in the family wants it. One daughter likes spiced crabapple jelly, so I do that for her. I haven't decided if I'll do jelly this year or not. The juice is now frozen, so I can use it for jelly if I want. It's a busy time of year!

  2. We have a couple of crabapple trees but the crabapples are very small, so we never do anything with them. Did you plant your crabapple tree? Did you choose a certain variety? How big are your crabapples?

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Our crabapples are small, too, about 3/4 inch diameter. The variety is Evereste. We chose this one for its appearance in the landscape (in the front yard) as well as productivity. Because the apples are so small, anything I do with them I process whole. So that's limited to sauce, juice (needs to be sweetened and blended with reg apple juice and spices), and jelly. I did make a snack cake today with some of the sauce, and the cake was well-received. So they're useful in baking that way. To process whole, after washing, I cover with water to just below the top apples and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the apples are soft. I strain the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined colander and puree the leftover apples in a 1950s Foley food mill. The pulp gets pushed through the holes in the bottom of the mill and the seeds and stems stay in the top basket to be discarded. It's pretty easy, but takes time to do all of the apples. After making the sauce, I add in some water and crabapple juice to get the consistency right and sweeten with sugar to taste.

  3. My mother used to pickle crabapples, your mention brought back the memory. The scent of cloves and cinnamon when the jar was opened, the pinkish orbs of the crabapples floating in the juice. The apples were soft and the juice they were packed in sweet and spicy. We’d eat them all winter. When you ate the apple you popped it in your mouth and sort of sucked the meat of the apple off the stem. The stem and skin and any rogue cloves that might have been on the apple were spit out. Though it sounds a bit messy it was a way of putting up “free” food in the winter. We also had crabapple sauce through the winter.
    My eldest daughter purchased a house with a lovely crabapple tree in the back. These are larger then the small golf ball sized ones of my childhood. You can eat them in hand. I made quite a bit of crabapple sauce and butter the first couple of years. I’m still using as a substitute for fats in baking. The squirrels throw them to the ground and they attract wasps in the late summer. My SIL was close to taking the tree down. Last year and this year he picked the apples and dropped them at one of the cider makers in our city and was paid. The tree survives to live another season:) The cider maker has organized pickers to come and glean but pays a bit more if you do it. Also it doesn’t matter if the apples are green or past peak they can all be used, just not off the ground. I know I’ve told you the crabapple story before, I’m just happy it didn’t get cut down and there is a use for it’s apples. The producing crab apple trees only seem to grow in the older areas of our city. The newer varieties of flowering crabs I’m not sure produce fruit?

    1. What a lovely memory of your mother's spicy pickled crabapples.
      I'm glad your daughter and SIL found someone who can use their crabapples. And even better that they earned some money with their crabs.

      You know, I think a lot of people just don't want the "mess" of fruit dropping and having to clean it up before a lot of wasps arrive on the scene. So it's no wonder only the older homes in your town have the fruiting varieties. In times past, folks planted fruiting trees of all sorts because they wanted the fruit. I hope that ideal isn't lost forever.

  4. Our crabapple tree was loaded with little apples this year so my oldest dd decided she wanted to do something with them. She said never again lol. So many apples yielded so little sauce lol. There were still a lot on the tree when she picked all she wanted, but the deer have been enjoying them so I guess they aren’t going to waste. They quickly ate all they could reach, and seem to come back every night now to eat the ones that fall. It’s about empty I think.


    1. Hi Diane,
      I hope your daughter is enjoying the sauce that shew as able to make, even if only a little for the work. And I'm glad that the deer are enjoying them. I don't know if you think of deer are garden pests or as entertainment. But if they're entertaining to watch, then at least they are being fed so they'll come back. But if they're pests, oops, sorry they've found your address.

  5. I don't think I've ever eaten a crabapple. I assume they have a tart taste? Congrats on getting a big job done.

    We've had a couple of hard frosts so we only have things like carrots and beets still in our garden. I made tacos for dinner the other night to help us use up some tomatoes that hubby picked while green and have ripened on our countertop. They aren't as good as vine-ripened but it's still nice to have garden-fresh tomatoes.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Our crabapples are tart and astringent. I've heard the astringency is prized for making cider.

      I'm glad you have the homegrown tomatoes to still enjoy, even if not vine-ripened. We're down to the last half-dozen tomatoes ripened on the counter. I'll be sad to see them go for the year. But now that the weather is cooler, we're enjoying other garden produce, like the potatoes. I made a batch over oven-fried potatoes as a snack this afternoon and they went quickly.

  6. Crab apples sounds vaguely familiar. Smaller and tastier. We have "mountain apples" in the islands, same as the record producing company for Iz.

    Lili, you do so much work, but all good. You are keeping your family healthy by having a very productive garden.



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