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Wild Food, Scrumping and Crabapples - Nutritional and Culinary Information About Crabapples

Updated on November 17, 2015

Pretty Tasty Fruit!

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Creative Commons licence | Source

Do you have a fondness for the crabapple? This relative of the modern, cultivated eating and baking apple, found across continents for centuries but probably originating in China, has aspects and characteristics not always appreciated by those who have never tried it. A member of the Malus genus of plants along with the larger, sweeter domesticated apple, and of the wider family Rosaceae, it can be found both cultivated and growing wild, with a small but sometimes agreeable fruit that can be surprisingly useful in culinary terms. Decorative strains of both the blossom and the fruit may also be found, and the plant is popular amongst bonsai devotees.[1][5]

The commercial apple was developed from the crab-apple, which may still serve a useful purpose in providing strong rootstocks for grafted commercial apples, and improving levels of pollination in apple orchards.[2]

Often considered too small for eating as a dessert fruit, the crabapple has a taste that is often rather sour and tart but can be sweeter and more palatable in some varieties. However, there are several traditional uses for this unusual looking fruit which prove it an invaluable ingredient in your fruit and vegetable tray. Crab-apple jelly, for one, made from the juice of the fruit, is a traditional treat you should not go a lifetime without experiencing. It can be found in cookbooks as old as Harriet Schuyler Nelson's ' Fruits and Their Cookery', first published in 1921. The high levels of pectin found within crab-apples are invaluable for the production of jams and jellies, and often not found at such high levels in other fruits.[3]

Increasingly there are large numbers of enthusiasts for the subject, study and practice of gathering wild foods, and crab apples are a familiar example of this, along with such wild crops as blackberries and cobnuts. Not all crab-apples are delicious, however, especially the wild kind! (When collecting wild foods of course expert advice should be sought if necessary and all required precautions be taken.)

Nutritionally crab-apples can make an interesting addition to your diet. Looking at the entry for raw crab-apples on the Nutritiondata website, we can see that they offer 22 g of carbohydrate, zero g of protein and zero g of fat per one hundred and ten gram serving. Interestingly, one study has found crab apples to be superior to regular domesticated apples as far as the levels of anti-oxidants and useful phenolic substances contained in the apple skin are concerned, which may speculatively reduce the oxidation of lipids (fats) within the body and reduce damage done as a result.[4] Regarding the vitamin and mineral content for raw crab-apples, they have a useful amount of Vitamin C at fifteen per cent of daily value per 110 grams.

Are crab-apples something you are interested in trying out? Are you looking for a little more interest and variety in your diet? Maybe they could be just the thing!


1. Wikipedia 'Malus'. Wikipedia website. 10/10/2010. Available at <> Accessed 18/10/2010.

2. Healey, P., Rayner, S. 'Unnatural selection: the challenges of engineering tomorrow's people.' London; Earthscan: 2009.

3. Nelson, H.S. 'Fruits and Their Cookery.' Bibliolife, LLC: 2009, pp.21-22

4. Huber, G.M., Rupasinghe, H.P.V. 'Phenolic Profiles and Antioxidant Properties of Apple Skin Extracts.' Journal of Food Science. 2009: 74;9, pp. C693–C700.

5. Kellerhals, M. 'Introduction to Apple (Malus x domestica) - Genetics and Genomics of Rosaceae'. Plant Genetics and Genomics: Crops and Models. 2009;6:I, pp.73-84.

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