Rarely made commercially since the turn of the 20th century, these spiced apples have received a modern update from one of our favorite food revivalists, Robert Lambert. He says, "These are a nostalgic food, since many people from the Midwest remember eating them as kids. It's my charge to create flavors that compete with memory."
The crab apples come from his grandmother's Wisconsin farm. The recipe comes from his grandmother's archives. It's updated and improved "just a little," he says. He cooks them in fruit juice instead of water, which increases the flavor. The fruit juice is combined with cider vinegar and spices and transforms the crab apples from inedibly bitter to pleasantly sweet.
They're excellent and go well with roasted pork loin or ham. And don't toss the syrup they come in—it's great in marinades, sauces, or reduced as a glaze for ham. A very special side dish for a family dinner.