It’s back to school time of year and it’s my favourite time of the year. I love the back to school feeling and the smell of new books and if I close my eyes now I can smell that first night back at school, the smell of vegetables from the school kitchen and the freshly waxed lino and the chalk and the fresh sheets in our bedrooms. I, at the grand old age of 27, can’t pass my old school in North Oxford without getting butterflies at this time of year because it all comes flooding back.
I also love autumn because it feels like a fresher more positive New Year. In the depth of winter, January 1st doesn’t feel particularly fresh or exciting, it is mostly cold and wet and very grey whereas September promises the start of a much nicer new year. Most berries and fruits are in season such as blackberries, apples, plums, walnuts and one of my favourites, crabapples.
Crabapples always remind me of those hips that we used to collect at school. They share the same shape and vivid colour and we used to collect the hips in order to utilise the itching powder found within. I asked Mum about this last night and she confirmed that the fibrous interiors were what made them itchy. I can still remember that feeling to this day. We used to amass them on the walk down to the school hockey pitches and then poke them down the back of each others’ shirts. It makes me think of aertex and hockey sticks and freezing cold, chapped legs.
They are distantly related as members of the rose family. Crabapples grown on trees very similar to the normal apple tree. They are often quite small and very tart, only used when cooked. Crabapples are also sometimes known as wild apples. They contain a very high level of natural pectin which is what sets jams and jellies and are most commonly found preserved in that way.
I am still however on a path of turning everything into some kind of home brew and while looking up recipes for the massive glut of crabapples we’ve been given in recent days, I found this recipe for Crabapple Schnapps. This recipe is unusal for home brewed liquers because there is no sugar involved but this is the method of German schnapps and in French eau-de-vies. I learned today that schnapps means ‘swallow’ in German which makes a lot of sense!
– you will need an extremely large jar, I’ve used a kilner but any sweet shop style jar would work well.
- 2kg crabapples
- 1l of vodka
- Halve the fruit and tip into the bottom of a large jar
- Add the vodka, ensuring all the fruit is covered and seal the jar.
- Leave to steep for 8-10 weeks in a cool, dark place.
- Strain the liquid from the fruit and bottle the resulting liquid.
- Leave to mature for 2-3 months.
I expect it’s going to be extremely tart but delicious! Perfect for Christmas parties with gravadlaz, herring and Jannsen’s temptation.