We all have our cravings, those things we reach for when we need to change the scenery and uplift our energies. For some this could be retail therapy, chocolates or a good cup of coffee. For me, it is taking a walk in the park.
From one week to the next, at a glance, nothing really changes, however when you are consistent in your observations you will notice everything change along with the seasons, albeit at a slow pace.
My inquisitive nature loves discovering and meeting new beings. On October 21, 2018, I noticed a tree in the park filled with beautiful pink blossoms. As I neared the tree, I also noticed that there was already fruit on the tree, little treasures hidden among its leaves.
Imagine my joy at the discovery of a crab apple tree! The herbalist in me knows that plants present themselves to you when the time is ready for you to meet them. With that in mind, I realize that every discovery is another layer of healing in my own life, and to be open to healing is beautiful.
This week as I had gone to the park to look for another herb, altogether for my blog, I noticed that the crab apples were much bigger and indeed the tree beckoned me to come closer. While I stood under her, I asked conversationally, what she would recommend I make with her beautiful fruits and she responded, ‘liqueur’. I walked away with one and a half kilograms of crab apples and big smile on my face.
There is just something in the connection to Mother Nature that is so sacred to me. When I am busy, I do not always find time to replenish my soul in the gardens of the park. At times, I even wonder if my connection is still there, when I walk past beings that simply observe me, without making their presence known.
Yet, when I am in the park and I open my heart, the calling cannot be denied and the connection is very real and indeed sacred. It is an honor to be so closing linked and intertwined with the earth, and to be able to recognize that we are not apart, but all a part of the whole.
While I harvested the fruit, I think of giving back and playing some classical music while harvesting, I smile as I hear her request to honor her roots and then changed the music to Celtic. I read that if there is a connection with a tree, you would be more likely to grow a rooting from that connection, and as I stood under her I asked if she would give me consent to harvest a soft branch to take home. She said no twice, and I smile as I recognized that all beings have their own wishes. Instead I picked up some shoots others have removed and took them home, perhaps they will grow, if so – I will be sure to let you know.
CRAB APPLE, THE FIRST OF ALL APPLES
Known as: Crab apple, Squaw Apple, Sweet Crab Apple, Prairie Crab Apple, Wild Apple.
If you happen to stumble upon a Crab Apple Tree, harvest some of her beautiful fruits for she brings more than food for the body into your being.
- Crab Apple All apples, including crab apples can be eating to ease constipation; the recommendation is to have an apple every night at bedtime to alleviate symptoms. I guess this would be marginally more if you eat crab apples since they really are quite small in comparison.
- Apples can improve mental and physical fatigue, I have heard it being said that an apple can give you a greater energy boost than a cup of coffee in the morning. The natural sugars in apples provoke a response similar to caffeine, but without the jitters. Sounds like a win-win to me.
- Eating apples is also a great way to cleanse your teeth and they are hard enough to push back the gums so the borders are clear of deposits and soft enough not to hurt your gums.
- In traditional herbal treatment, crab apples have been used to clean and detox wounds, being useful in healing internal and external skin tissues. You can use the crushed pulp as a poultice to treat inflammation.
- An ointment mentioned by John Gerard in his Herbal of 1633 suggests mixing apple pulp with pig fat and rose water to make a treatment for rough skin. I use tallow to make balms and I can confirm animal fats are excellent moisturizers for dry skin.Mixed into your pet foot assist with the expulsion of hairballs, and soothes the digestive tract.
Identification, growth, and harvesting of Crab Apples
- The Crab Apple (Malus Sylvestris) is a member of the Rose Family (Rosaceae), and all apple trees originate from the crab apple. Remarkable when you think of how civilization have cultivated food to suit their own demands.
- This beautiful tree has blooms of white or pink flowers, cultivar depending. Large trees bear hundreds of fruit in clusters, and is an important source of pollen and nectar for insects and bees.
- All fruits of the crab apple tree are edible and like apples, crab apple seeds contain cyanide.
- Fruit are edible raw and cooked. The size of the fruit also depends on the cultivar; generally, fruit is between two and four centimeters in diameter. They have a tart taste, unlike the sweetness from fruit that has been cultivated.
- Crab apple fruit contains a high amount of pectin, excellent to set jams and jellies. The leaves of the crab apple results in a pleasant tasting tea.
- Their lifespan is 30 to 70 years and you could grow a crab apple tree from either a cutting or seed.
- Did you know? Crab apples are popular for use in bonsai culture, because of its plentiful blooms and small fruit.
Crab Apple Blooms
We live in a society where food and medicine is simply a matter of going to shops and popping a few things in a basket. Convenience takes precedence and few people are interested in learning how to forage for food and medicine. It is in the interest of all of us to learn valuable skills that will come in handy when you need to supplement food shortages or look after your family when you are not able to get to a doctor right away.
I treasure every discovery I make, I love building my knowledge of foraging for food and medicine and am very excited to implement what I have learned immediately. Of the greens I consume, 75% are from wild harvesting, and the medicines in my home are 100% my own.
Since I have harvested some fruit and I was looking for recipes, I found some that I have used personally. I made some spiced apples and my liqueur is still in process, currently in the infusion stage.
Old Fashioned Spiced Crab Apples
Serve as a traditional side to meat and poultry dishes.
- a quart of crab apples
- 1 3/4 cups cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 Tbsp cardamom pods
- 1 tsp whole cloves
Wash the apples well, and leave the stems intact. Gently prick the apples all over with a fork or the tip of a small sharp knife. This is so that they don’t burst as they cook. Combine the vinegar, water, and sugar in a pot. Roll over the cardamom pods with a rolling pin or the side of a wine bottle to gently crack them open. Do not lose any of the black seeds. Add the cardamom (seeds and pods) and cloves to the pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and add the apples to the pot. Simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your apples. Use your judgement; you don’t want the apples to get soft and mushy. Carefully remove the apples from the hot liquid and pack them into your jar or jars. Strain the pickling liquid and then pour into the jars, completely immersing the fruit. Let cool, then cap, and refrigerate.
Apple Pectin Recipe
Crab apples, and particularly their cores and seeds, are naturally very high in pectin. Simmer two pounds of crab apples with three cups of water for about 30 minutes, then mash and strain — the result can be used like you would use liquid pectin in a recipe to set any kind of fruit jelly or jam.
Homemade Crab Apple Jelly
- a quart of crab apples
- 1 3/4 cups cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 Tbsp cardamom pods
- 1 tsp whole cloves
Wash, stem and coarsely chop or just quarter the apples and put them in a large pot. (Don’t bother to peel or core them). Add enough water to just cover them and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the apples are very soft. Mash the whole lot with a big spoon or potato masher and cook for another few minutes. Spoon the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth set over a large bowl or pot, and let the juice drain out, stirring the pulp to extract as much juice as possible. Measure the resulting juice into a pot (this is easy if you drain it into a pot with measurements marked on the side) and add ¾ cup sugar for every cup of juice. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil rapidly, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 210°F on a candy thermometer, or until a small amount placed on a cold plate and put into the freezer turns to gel. This should take about 20 minutes. While it’s still hot, pour the jelly into hot jars, adding a cinnamon stick to each jar if you like; skim off any foam that rises to the top with a spoon, and seal. Set aside to cool. Process in a hot water bath or store in the fridge.
Crab Apple Liqueur
- 2 lb. hard, fragrant crab apples, scrubbed clean
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cups high-proof vodka or rye whiskey
- 1⁄3cup maple syrup
- 1⁄3cup sugar
- Gold flake, crumbled (optional)
In a 4-quart jar or other tight-sealing container, add the apples and cinnamon. Cover with the alcohol and seal. Store in a cool dark place for at least 1 month and up to 2 months. Then strain and reserve the liquid, discarding the apples. In a small pot over medium heat, add the maple syrup, sugar, and 1⁄3 cup water; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove and let cool completely. Add the syrup to the infused spirit, stirring to incorporate. Stir in some gold flake, if desired. Using a funnel, transfer the liqueur to a clean glass bottle. Shake to distribute the gold flake before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
FOLKLORE & MAGIC
- Planet: Venus
- Element: Water
- Symbolism: Love & Trust, Health, Garden Magick
- Stone: Emerald, Rose Quartz
- Birds: Grosbeak
- Colour: Yellow-Green, Pink
- Deity: Demeter, Hera, Pomona, Frigga, Freya
- Folk Names: Fruit of the Gods, Fruit of the Underworld,
- Silver Branch, The Silver Bough, Tree of Love
Traditional customs and beliefs passed on through generations by word of mouth.
- In Judeo-Christian mythology, the apple is the tree of forbidden knowledge, which gave Adam and Eve their knowledge of good and evil.
- In Norse tradition, the Apple is the tree of immortality. To the Norse, apples represented long life, wisdom and love and the Norse used apple wands in their love rituals.
- The Medieval church believed enchanted apples could be given to a victim to cause demonic possession.
- British and Celtic Folklore: In Celtic tradition, Avalon was also known as the Avallach, the Isle of Apples. Apples are one of the magical trees that forms part of the Celtic Ogham tree alphabet, its Ogham name being Quert.
- The deliberate felling of an Apple Tree was punishable by death in ancient Irish law (Gifford, page 97).
- Druid Folklore: The Apple Tree is closely linked to Druids in their aspect as magicians and shamans. The tree is often used when the Druid undergoes a magical transformation or journeys in the Otherworld.
- An apple sliced in half (from the middle) will reflect the pentacle; the pentacle is seen as an important talisman of protection.
- If you have access to fragrant apple blossoms, you can use these in love sachets and magical blends for love and health.
- You can tie a ribbon or a strip of cloth that presents your deepest desire onto a branch of an apple tree, as the cloth weathers away, your wish will come true.
- In the book, ‘Anglo Saxon Nine Herbs Charm’ wild crab apples blended with plantain and other herbs are believed to be a dispeller of poison.
- Apple wood is as a connection to the Otherworld, creating a wand from apple wood will be an appropriate magic tool for shamanic journeys into this realm.
- If you wish to work with the energy of the Apple tree, you can aid the process by focusing on Apple trees and working with apple wood, eating more apples, drinking apple juice and the occasional glass of cider. Dry apple peel and drink it as a tea.
- If you have special connection to a particular apple tree, you can try to cultivate a tree from its pips. I found this is very effective, in my case the stronger the connection the more likely the outcome of success.
Make your every moment count and learn how to connect with the land, so that you may heal and nourish your body mind and soul. Then go out there and harvest wild greens for salad, roots for medicine or coffee and crab apples for special and unique preserves.
I am not a qualified herbalist, nor do I claim to be. I am passionate about natural healing and I share what I have learned and how I personally use or apply the herbs in my own life. Always do your own research, and only use herbs once you are certain they are safe and have consulted with either your doctor or a qualified herbalist. Your health is in your hands.
I welcome your feedback on my article.
In no particular order, information has been found from the following links which you are welcome to click on for further reading, should you wish too: