I was in Pennsylvania a couple weekends back for a family wedding. It was a quick trip, but I still did my fair share of time swooping through green on windy-ass country roads, trying not to get carsick. There were apples everywhere–all sorts of pops of red and russet–and I imagined someone with some authority on the matter would proclaim it a good year for apples.
Then, earlier this week, my mom called from South Carolina to relay a message from Pennsylvania: “Apparently, everyone in the world has apples.” And there it is. My grandma had been getting “come get some apples” calls from all the relatives and she, allegedly, she can only bake so many pies.
There’s a vendor at the greenmarket here in the city that sells these sorts of wild apples–apples that your people have on their property and call you to come pick. I bought a bag full of tiny red ones and they weren’t nearly as tart as I expected. I think this is part of the magic of this recipe: it’s a little untamed, a little unpredictable. There are so many varieties of crabapples that the final product here will really be an expression of the apples you use. Mine surprised me. It had an earthiness that I didn’t totally expect.
- 3/4 pounds crabapples, washed, dried, and halved
- 2 cups bourbon, higher proof if you have it
- 1/4 cup cane sugar, or more to taste
- Fill a quart jar with halved crabapples, about 3/4 pound. Add the sugar.
- Cover with bourbon, about 2 cups.
- Put the lid on the jar and agitate.
- Store in a cool, dark place for at least a week, shaking once a day to help dissolve the sugar.
- After one week, strain and store the infused bourbon into another clean jar.
- Psst… If you’re into bourbon perhaps you also like southern food? I’m giving away a copy of The Southern Slow Cooker! It also has cocktail recipes, a couple of which are from yours truly!
- This recipe is adapted from What Julia Ate’s Crabapple Spiced Rum.
- If you end up with a more tart type of crabapple than I did, you may want to add more sugar. I suggest starting with 1/4 cup and adding more to the finished product to taste.
- I imagine some of the really small, hard crabapples (the ones that almost look like cherries) will not be as good for this, although if someone tries it and proves me wrong, let me know!
- I really tried to find something definitive about whether or not all crabapple varieties were edible and I couldn’t. I hope it goes without saying that you should make sure the fruit you’re using is safe.