A Bushel of What?

When we moved into our home a few years ago, we were excited to discover that four of the trees in our yard were fruit-bearing. We have three pear trees, but unfortunately the fruit is totally inedible. Pears fall too early from the trees each summer, littering the lawn and attracting birds; when they begin to sweeten and then rot, we’ve got bees and wasps. Eventually, we plan on removing these trees and planting something else in our backyard. We decided to plant two more fruit trees this spring on our property. Our front yard is now home to a sour cherry tree and a White Lady peach tree, and we are looking forward to using these fruits for jams, crisps, and fresh-fruit eating!
There is another tree in our yard that bears fruit. It’s a squat crabapple tree that blooms with massive amounts of white flowers in the spring, and then begins to form fruits in early summer. We love coming up with new projects, and any project that allows us to exercise our inner mad-scientists is a project that we take on with zeal.
I do not remember how our plan was hatched, but one summer we decided that the beautiful red-pink crabapples that were ripening on our tree could not go unused. I thought about all the ways regular apples were used and I quickly crossed off all the usual recipe ideas off the list. Crabapples are super tart and really not something you can eat raw, save for a taste right off the tree each summer. David and I decided to try something we’d never made before: Crabapple Liqueur.
We found a recipe somewhere on the internet (and actually, now that I think of it, I’m not even sure the recipe was crabapple liqueur) and decided to give it a try. If you ask any of my friends, they will attest that crabapple liqueur is quite tasty, and I liken the flavor to a Jolly Rancher candy.
The recipe is easy. The results are amazing. We make multiple batches of this and give little bottles out as gifts. We even know another couple who’s started making their own versions and we’ve gotten together in the fall for an evening of liqueur tasting!
We know our crabapples are ripe when they are bright red and starting to give off a fragrant scent (which is now).

Recipe: Crabapple Liqueur
Makes 4 quarts

You’ll need:
two 4-quart jars with a tight fitting lid (We recycled glass lemonade bottles, but you could use big Mason Jars)
a funnel
cheese cloth
4 quarts ripe crabapples, washed and quartered
4 cups of sugar
1 bottle of vodka, 750 ml is plenty (No need to rack up a bill at the liquor store. We use Smirnoff Red and it’s perfectly fine.)
Fill clean, dry jar with crabapples. Add sugar and top off with vodka. Screw lid on tightly. Store jar on it’s side for two weeks in a location where the jars will be undisturbed, preferably not in direct sunlight. Rotate the jar once a day, so that sediment doesn’t form and the liquid mixes evenly.
After 14 days, filter into another clean jar by slowly pouring into a funnel with a piece of cheesecloth over top. This will help catch the sediment and apples. (You could also use the empty bottle from the vodka you used to store your liqueur.)

Note: We visit our local Beer and Wine Making store and pick up empty, attractive bottles to store the liqueur. They’re perfect for little gifts.


Nicole Kutcher is the author of A Bushel of What?, a blog that chronicles her experience as a CSA shareholder and sometimes gardener in the form of kitchen adventures, ideas and favorite recipes.  She is also a co-owner of Renew Pilates Studio in Easthampton, MA.

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