Crabapple Crumble

by Buffy Owens


This year our Crab Apple trees are fruiting to the point of limbs nearly touching the ground.

Now, if you are in upstate New York and have an apple tree in your yard, then you know that all apples are about to start abandoning their post. You may have already experienced these tiny tarts dive-bombing your car and your head. You might even be enjoying the sweet stench of those that are composting themselves right there on your lawn.

When one finally made contact with my thick head the other day, I realized that I needed to do something about it. Really?! Why on earth was I just letting these wonderfully organic and insanely accessible food bits go to rot? And why-oh-why wasn't I enjoying the reaching up, squatting down and all the wonderful movements associated with gathering my harvest. So I grabbed two of my largest bowls (one for each tree) and started collecting my bounty.

What to do with all those super sour crabapples?

I have several things planned, from chutney to bread and maybe even some apple spirits for the holidays. But for now, I decided to start with a delicious crab apple crisp! I searched around the ol' web for a bit of wee apple inspiration, then added some goodies from my cupboard and topped it off with a few of my favorite baking flavors to bring you the gluten-free recipe you see here.

Nourishing Note

The seeds of crab apples, like other apples, contain amygdalin. Amygdalin is a glycoside toxin that combines with a gastrointestinal enzyme to produce hydrogen cyanide. Yep! Poisonous cyanide. Yikes!

However the amount of amygdaline contained in apple seeds is tiny, and the seed must be chewed up to release the substance. But, the seed to meat ratio on the crab apples is different from larger apples. Some of my little beauties had more seed than flesh. Chances are good this still wouldn't be nearly enough cyanide to harm you. That said, why add more toxins to your system to flush out if it isn't necessary?

So I decided to core this little buggers before baking. Not to mention that there were a few recipes that suggested it for improved taste.

Now removing the seeds from 30-50 crab apples is a bit tedious. So my suggestion to you is to utilize it as a wonderful mindfulness practice, time to shuck and boogie to your favorite tunes, or listen to your favorite podcast.

Crabapple Crumble

This crisp is a wonderful way to put those crabapples to good use.

Makes: 8-10 Servings

Crabapple Crisp

Prep time:

Cook time:

Ingredients For The Filling:
  • 30-50 crab apples, quartered with seeds removed*
  • 1 apple cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1-2 Tablespoon Chia Seeds (optional)
  • pinch of salt

*The number of crab apples depends on the size of your apples. Use enough to fill your pan 1 1/2 to 2 inches

Ingredients For The Oatmeal Crisp:
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or a blend of the two
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil or grass-fed butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Mix Crab Apple Filling Ingredients. Toss the sliced apples with the maple syrup, spices and chia seeds in a medium mixing bowl then spread them evenly into a 6" Deep Dish Pie Pan, 2 1/2 quart baking dish, or 8"x 8" pan.
  3. PMix Oatmeal Crisp Topping Ingredients. Combine the oats, coconut, nuts, and spices in a medium mixing bowl. Add the maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and almond extract and mix until combined.
  4. Spread the oat mixture evenly over the top of the apple slices in the baking dish.
  5. Cover and bake for 40 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven, uncover, and bake 25-30 minutes more to crisp the Oatmeal topping.
  7. Once everything has cooked down, this crisp has more oats and nuts than fruit. Which made it a wonderful dish to eat with some grass-fed organic yogurt. Yum!
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