I make quarts of crabapple syrup every fall so I can use it year round. It’s a great flavor for cocktails, and also makes a tasty sorbet or seasonal ice cream. And it comforts me to know it’s there. In my pantry. At my disposal. I’ll never be alone as long as I have crabapple syrup.
Syrup starts with juice. This year I bought myself a steam juicer, but for years I’ve made crabapple juice the old fashioned way, and that’s what I’ll describe below. The same technique can be used for juicing any hard fruit.
Rinse the crabapples and pour them into a large saucepan; no need to remove stems or seeds. Add just enough water to cover the fruit, then bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five to ten minutes, until the crabapples are soft enough to mash with a potato masher. Turn off the heat, and let the crabapples cool slightly.
Pour the fruit into a jelly bag set over a bowl and let the juice drain. Don’t squeeze the jelly bag as the juice is draining, or your syrup may be cloudy. While the juice is dripping, wash out the saucepan. You’re about to use it again and you don’t want bits of apple in there.
Measure your strained juice, and return it to the saucepan. For every cup of juice, add one cup of sugar. Whisk the sugar and juice together over medium heat, until the sugar is completely dissolved. If the liquid starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow it to cool. Pour the cooled syrup into bottles or canning jars.
Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can play around with adding more flavors. Try adding a few chipotle peppers to the syrup (at the sugar whisking stage) for a smoky flavor, or spicebush berries for warmth and sweetness. If you decide to add these extra flavors, let the syrup sit on the stovetop for approximately four hours before straining and bottling. That will strengthen the infusion.
Syrup will keep for several months in the refrigerator. For long-term storage, process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.