Are Crabapples Edible: Learn About The Fruit Of Crabapple Trees

By: Liz Baessler

Who among us hasn’t been told at least once not to eat crabapples? Because of their frequently bad taste and the small amounts of cyanide in the seeds, it’s a common misconception that crabapples are toxic. But is it safe to eat crabapples? Keep reading to learn more about the safety of eating crabapples and what to do with crabapple fruit trees.

Are Crabapples Edible?

The short answer to this question is: yes. But there’s a longer answer to explain why. Crabapples aren’t actually a different kind of tree than apples. The only distinction is one of size. If a tree produces fruits that are bigger than two inches (5 cm.) in diameter, it’s an apple. If the fruits are smaller than 2 inches (5 cm.), it’s a crabapple. That’s it.

Granted, those apples that have been bred to be bigger have also been bred to be better tasting. And many ornamental varieties of crabapples have been bred to have attractive flowers and nothing else. This means that the fruit of crabapple trees, for the most part, is not especially good tasting. Eating crabapples won’t make you sick, but you may not enjoy the experience.

Eating Fruit of Crabapple Trees

Some crabapple fruit trees are more palatable than others. Dolgo and Centennial are varieties that are sweet enough to eat right off the tree. For the most part, however, crabapple owners prefer to cook the fruit into preserves, butters, sauces, and pies. A couple good varieties for cooking are Chestnut and Whitney.

Crabapple trees hybridize readily, so if you have a tree on your property, there’s a decent chance you’ll never know quite what it is. Feel free to experiment with eating it fresh and cooking it with lots of sugar to see if it tastes good.

You don’t have to worry about whether it’s edible – it is. And as for the cyanide? It’s just as present in the seeds of apples and even pears. Just avoid the seeds as usual and you’ll be fine.

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Many children are warned, with stories of poisoning and sick bellies, to steer clear of crabapples. With those warnings hot in their ears, most kids won't attempt to eat them and grow up believing that they are in fact poisonous. The legend passes down to the next generation and crabapples are vilified for something they never did. In fact, crabapples are edible and, in some cases, even palatable.

What kind of crab apples are edible?

Crabapples are commonly thought of as ornamental, not fruit trees. The difference between an ornamental and an edible crabapple is the size of the fruit. Edible varieties bear fruit that are about 2 inches in diameter, ornamentals have smaller or no fruit.

Furthermore, are crabapples good to eat? Crabapples aren't actually a different kind of tree than apples. This means that the fruit of crabapple trees, for the most part, is not especially good tasting. Eating crabapples won't make you sick, but you may not enjoy the experience.

Furthermore, are crab apples edible for humans?

Garden varieties can vary too, and are also edible. They may be small and sour, but you can make some amazing recipes with the fruit of the crab apple tree. They have an exceptionally high pectin and acid content which makes them ideal for setting fruit jams and jellies.

What does a crab apple taste like?

Apple flavor ranges from sweet to tart, depending on variety and the use the variety is typically put to. Crabapple flavor ranges from tart to extremely tart. Apples can be eaten raw or cooked. Crabapples are typically cooked with sugar to minimize the tartness.

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