Crabapple Butter Recipe

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Crabapple Butter on Toast.JPGIf you like apple butter, then you will definitely love this crabapple butter. Crabapple butter is relatively easy to make so if you know someone who has a crabapple tree or you have one, do not let those little flavor-packed apples go to waste!

Crabapple butter can be processed like jelly into sealed jars to enjoy later. I imagine that crabapples can also be tossed in the freezer to make into butter later, although I have never tried this method. The flavor in crabapples really goes a long way so if you make jelly, you can also use the leftover pulp without compromising the full flavor for butter.


Crabapple Butter Recipe

What you will need:

  • bucket for picking crabapples if picking your own
  • sharp knife
  • strainer or sieve with medium sized holes (smaller than seeds)
  • large pot (6-8 quart) for making pulp and for cooking butter (preferably stainless steel)
  • large spoon for cooking crabapples and butter
  • potato masher with small holes
  • rubber spatula for working pulp through the sieve
  • container for strained crabapple pulp
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • If canning the crabapple butter you will also need:
  • 6-7 8 oz. or 3 pint canning jars with rings and new lids
  • small pan to soak lids and keep warm until use
  • large canning pot with rack
  • labels


  • 3 to 4 lbs of crabapples
  • crabapple pulp extracted from above crabapples (approx. 5 cups)
  • sugar (2 ½ – 5 cups)
  • 2 tsp. apple pie spice
  • water

Wash Crabapples.JPGPreparing the Crabapples:

Place crabapples in a container for washing with water several inches above the crabapples. Swish and let soak for at least 10 minutes. Crabapples can have a tendency to hide worms which will escape from the crabapples and float to the top. Change water until debris is washed from apples and rinse in a strainer.



Cutting Crabapple.JPG

Crabapple Cut in Half.JPG

Crabapples will need to be halved (or quartered if bigger). I found that the stems do not pull out easily or often break and discovered a very easy way to remove the stems while cutting the crabapples. As shown in the picture, cut the crabapple just to the side of the stem. The stem will then pull off very easily. Do not peel or core. Crabapples do turn brown when exposed to air like regular apples. However, they do not turn quite as fast. To minimize browning, place each chopped measured amount of crabapples into the cooking pot with the proper amount of water needed as you prepare all the crabapples. For instance, chop 2 cups of crabapples and place into the cooking pot with 1 cup of water. Repeat with next 2 cups of crabapples until entire quantity is prepared. The water will prevent the crabapple’s exposure to air and browning prematurely. Do not put the crabapples in a bowl of water to prepare the entire amount and then drain and discard water to measure the entire batch. You will be discarding valuable pectin that leached from the inside of the chopped apples into the water.

Extracting the pulp:

If using leftover pulp from crabapple jelly, do not cook again yet. Begin with mashing the crabapples below.

Boil Crabapples.JPGIf starting with crabapples, not pulp, do the following to extract pulp. Three to four pounds of crabapples yields approximately 10 cups. Add crabapples to the cooking pot with ½ the amount of water as crabapples. Bring to a hard boil for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes. The crabapples will soften and begin to fall apart when stirred.




Crabapple Seeds and Skin Separated.JPG

 Mash the crabapples. The mixture will resemble applesauce combined with seeds and skin. Working with small quantities at a time, press the mixture through a strainer or sieve to separate the pulp from the seeds and skin. A rubber spatula works well for this task. As the mixture is worked through the sieve, the spatula will also help keep the holes open from excess pulp. Remainder should include seeds and skins with very little, if any, pulp (see picture). If there is still a lot of pulp that does not want to separate and push through the strainer, the pulp is too thick. Process the entire batch, setting mixture aside for additional cooking. When complete, place mixture back into the cooking pot. Add enough water to thin the mixture into a medium to thick applesauce consistency. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking. Mash and repeat straining process.

Making the butter:

Measure strained pulp while placing back into the cooking pot. For tart crabapple butter, add ½ the amount of sugar as pulp or up to equal amounts of sugar and pulp for sweeter crabapple butter. Simmer on low heat for approximately two hours to cook down into delicious thick crabapple butter. Stir frequently to avoid sticking or scorching. Add apple pie spice and cook for another 10 minutes.

Unlike making jelly, ingredients do not need to be precise to achieve successful results. It is all about personal preference of taste and texture. Modify proportions of sugar and spices to suit your tastes as well as cooking time to achieve desired thickness. Recipe is for a good portion to can or freeze. However, any portion size can be made by following the ratio of ½ the quantity of water to the quantity of crabapples plus sugar and spices to your liking.

Canning Option: If canning crabapple butter, prepare jars, rings, lids, and hot water bath when butter is nearly completed. Spoon the crabapple butter into jars, leaving ¼†of headspace. Run rubber spatula around inside edge of jar to remove any air pockets. Add more butter if necessary. Add lids and rings, tightening slightly.

Process in boiling water bath:

Base time is 10 minutes

Altitude Feet      Increase Processing Time

1000-3000        5 minutes

3001-6000      10 minutes

6001-8000      15 minutes

8001-10000    20 minutes

Remove jars from hot water bath, cool, check for proper seals, and label jars with contents and date.

Freezer Option: Alternately, crabapple butter can be spooned into freezer containers and frozen for up to one year.

Refrigerator Option: Crabapple butter will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks. This is a good option when making smaller portions and will be eaten before spoiling.

Serving Suggestions: Enjoy crabapple butter on toast, bagels, or english muffins. It is exceptionally delicious on cinnamon bread toast! Add a spoonful to cooked oatmeal for a delightful change of pace.



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