Crabapples

Crab apples collected from a forest close to the villages of Vitsa and Monodendri

Greek: άγρια μήλα

The crab apple was the most important ancestor of the cultivated apple, over 6,000 varieties having been bred over the ages (over two-thirds now extinct). The timber of the crab apple is uniform in texture and if dried slowly, is excellent for woodworking. At one time it was used for making set-squares and other drawing instruments. The fruit is excellent for crab apple jelly, jam and wine.

Apple trees are typically 4–12 m (13–39 ft) tall at maturity, with a dense, twiggy crown. The leaves are 3–10 cm (1.2–3.9 in) long, alternate, simple, with a serrated margin. The flowers are borne in corymbs, and have five petals, which may be white, pink or red, and are perfect, with usually red stamens that produce copious pollen, and a half-inferior ovary; flowering occurs in the spring after 50–80 growing degree days (varying greatly according to subspecies and cultivar).

Crabapples are an excellent source of pectin, and their juice can be made into a ruby-coloured preserve with a full, spicy flavour. A small percentage of crabapples in cider makes a more interesting flavour. As Old English Wergulu, the crab apple is one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century.

Apple wood gives off a pleasant scent when burned, and smoke from an apple wood fire gives an excellent flavour to smoked foods. It is easier to cut when green; dry apple wood is exceedingly difficult to carve by hand. It is a good wood for cooking fires because it burns hot and slow, without producing much flame.

Crabapple has been listed as one of the 38 plants that are used to prepare Bach flower remedies, a kind of alternative medicine promoted for its effect on health. However according to Cancer Research UK, “there is no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer”.

In the area of the Zagori and the National Parks of Pindus and Vikos-Aoos, they get ripe at the end of October-beginning of November and they can be collected.

 

 

Share on FacebookGoogle+Pin on PinterestEmail to someone