Crab apples are one of the easiest fruits to preserve with more pectin than most – it is even recommended as an addition to some jams and jellies to help them set. I thought I would try a preserve which, in South America, is often made with quince, guava or sweet potato, known as ‘dulce de’ whatever. So I will call this dulce de manzana silvestre.
If not cooked quite long enough, you will get a rich, dark jam. Cook it a little longer, and it will set into a firm paste, which can be sliced or cut into squares – the former is served with fresh cheese and the latter eaten as a candy. But I find it has other uses too. I blended it in water and used it instead of orange juice in a pumpkin cake recipe, which added a subtle aroma. It could also be used like tamarind in savoury dishes. It would be excellent as a condiment, particularly for a Thanksgiving turkey dinner, or with pork or game. Again, I think I didn’t make enough of it to experiment as much as I’d like, but still hoping to find some more apples.
I used the small ones from my tree in the garden, but any crab apples would work well.
Dulce de manzana silvestre
1 lb. crab apples
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Cook the crab apples in water until they are very soft. This takes about an hour, but don’t rush them. The mushier, the better.
Strain the fruit, pressing out as much fruit as you can, much as you would making apple sauce. Return the juice to a pan, add the sugar and cook on a low heat until it looks dark and is about 1/3 the volume you started with.
I put mine in a jar because I didn’t expect it to set as much as it did. Had I known, I would have used a square, non-metallic cake pan and cut it into squares.