Crabapples have such a bad name....yes, they bloom beautifully in the spring, but are the scourge of many a home gardener come summer when their fruit drops due to dis-use and they become the cursed object of messing up one's driveway.

The Siberian Crabapple 'Dolgo' is altogether a different story. The fruits of this Malus measure almost 1" from blossom tip to stem, making it one of the largest crabapple cultivars around. This means they can be readily used in cooking without too much of a pain to harvest. Yes, that colander measures 1 foot high and 1 foot wide, and within 30 minutes was filled to overflowing.Image

It's hard to describe the fragrance while sitting under the tree gathering the fruit from both ground and branches. It's a shame that our 'puters don't allow for a scratch and sniff option, but our kitchen right now has an aroma that needs to be bottled!

Crabapple jelly - of course, that's what everyone thinks. That's what my mind runs back to....we always made crabapple jelly when I was a kid. No pectin required....just some clean cloth diapers, sugar and a bit of wax on top of any old jars to be had. Alas, no babes here any longer, and I'm thinking my daughter in law wouldn't want the inevitable red stains on our grandson's nappies!

But there's a better way to enjoy this mouth puckering so tart that I can't whistle for three minutes after I take a bite of the fruit! Stem and take off the blossom end. Lay them in your crock-pot with 1/3 cup of water, and put in 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 of a cinnamon stick - repeat this in 4 layers. Turn your crockpot on low for 3 hours. No cutting, just lay it all in there! At about 2 hours, put in 1/2 stick of butter and stir. When 3 hours is up, pass the mixture through a food mill and you will have the loveliest pink and declicious applesauce you've ever tasted or looked at.

No need for any cinnamon candies in this mixture for that great pink color! The crabapples themselves deliver it all on their own. So rather than allowing them to be used as summer missiles - try them out in your cooking; you'll be surprised with these little jewels final product .