crabapple hooch

My neighborhood isn’t tight in the way some are. No block parties and outside of the casual, “hi, how’s it going,” folks tend to stick to their own business. That said, there are a few neighbors we’ve connected with and built relationships with. And it is to them that I dedicate this post.

treesTwo years ago, I was invited by neighbors across the street to help myself to the beautiful and rosy red crabapples hanging from their tree.

Never one to turn down free food, I filled a large bucket and considered my options. This being so long ago, I don’t remember exactly why I thought “liqueur,” but I did and after a quick google search, I had my recipe.

apples picked

apples picked

quartered and cored

quartered and cored

My husband and I settled in to watch a movie that night and I started in on the crabapple prep. Had I known that coring these tiny little apples would take upwards of six hours, I would have started much earlier.

mixed with sugar and vodka

mixed with sugar and vodka

Eventually, though, I was ready to mix the quartered crabapples with vodka and sugar. And when I climbed into bed at 2 a.m., I was comforted in knowing that my crabapple vodka would be ready for unveiling in 16 short days.

a bit cloudy at first--sugar crystals will dissolve in a few weeks and the resulting liqueur will be ruby red and crystal clear

a bit cloudy at first

16 days later

16 days later

high-tech filtration system

high-tech filtration system

isn't it lovely?

isn’t it lovely?

They didn’t disappoint. What a lovely batch of liqueur: brilliant red, sweet but tart, almost syrupy. I treasured my supply and whittled it down ever so slowly.

For botanical reasons of which I know not, this crabapple tree bears fruit every other year. Last year, then, offered no harvest. But this year I hit the jackpot and was invited again by our neighbors to pick.

This go-round, I’m tackling the project in smaller segments–no more all-nighters for me–and am once again comforted and thrilled to have crabapple hooch “brewing” to sip, savor, and share.

on the tree

on the tree

Many thanks to neighbors who are willing to share their harvest. I also raise a glass of this lovely spirit to Jessica, a neighbor and friend who is relatively new to the street and, sadly, soon to leave. We’ve shared a few toasts over the years, and I thank you for your friendship. You will be missed!

cheers to Jessica :-)

cheers to Jessica πŸ™‚

65 thoughts on “crabapple hooch

  1. It’s always nice to get along with neighbors. How nice that you have one that offers fresh crabapples!
    This drink looks so vibrant and delicious! How much does each batch yield, and how long does it last? πŸ˜‰ I like the high-tech filtration system you’ve set up πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Ada! Like I said on deLiz facebook, I’d be thrilled to have you over for a glass of crabapple liqueur.

      Regarding batch size: Hard to say exactly, but thinking for each 4 quarts crabapples (plus 1 quart each sugar and vodka), I yielded about 1 quart liqueur. Not a lot, considering the blood, sweat, and tears that go into coring those tiny things, but way worth it as the liqueur is amazing. It lasts forever, I’m sure, with all that sugar and alcohol. My first batch lasted almost the full two years (though I only enjoyed in sips–not the kind of thing you slam or drink in large amounts) and I doubled down this year, picking nearly twice as many. Need to make it last! Also thinking it’ll make great Christmas gifts.

  2. We are also a little reserved with our neighbors — friendly for sure with occasional cookie gifting but not overly close. Lucky you though to have neighbors willing share their harvest! That liqueur looks amazing, such a pretty color. Wish I could have a taste. =)

    • You’re the third person in line here who wants a taste and I really want to share with all of you! Imagine the fun we’d have if we could get together. You’d have your cider, I’d have my hooch. Oh, and bring that apple cake, would you?

      Always glad to have you here, Jessica.

  3. This sounds so yummy!!! And it also sounds like it’s far better to make your hooch in smaller batches so you don’t fall into bed too tired to enjoy the fruits of your labor (so to speak).

    • food puns are one of my most favorite things ever, Mimi–you made my day πŸ™‚ It is totally yummy and I so wish I could share.

      The irony of my not staying up so late making this liqueur is that I was up past midnight getting the blog post out. Sleep is so not my strong point 😦

      Still enjoying your new home? And how is Sir Bogey?

      • We are going back and forth on the weekends getting things set up in the vacation house. The eldest kids were up there last weekend and are going up with us this weekend. That to me is what it was all about – a place for everyone to go and veg – in whatever combinations..And btw, sleep isn’t my long suit either…And Sir Bogart? Too bad there isn’t a reform school for adorable puppies…;-)

    • I would have fun throwing a street party, that’s for sure. Yes, the “hooch” is funny as this stuff is really quite refined and elegant.

      Glad you’re here, Steven. Thanks for coming by. My email box told me you put a new post out (yay!), so that is on my to-do list for the day. Happy that is working now.

  4. Ah, so these are the edible crabapples that you told me about. These look larger (and more edible!) than the crabapples that grow in my yard. Darn. Unfortunately I don’t think I have any neighbors to share with me either. :-/

    • How small are your crabapples, Jenny? These weren’t over 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Can’t imagine working with anything smaller. My favorite part was how they were red all the way through. So pretty!

      I would like to dip some of your biscotti (nice job on putting the recipe together yourself–baking recipes aren’t easy to create from scratch) in this liqueur. Swoon!

    • Thanks! Sounds like we need to get serious about throwing this virtual cocktail party. Are you on facebook? Or maybe we could write a joint post? You can find my contact info here:

      Shoot me an email or fb message. Are you interested in putting something out there? I don’t know what exactly, but thinking it’d be fun to plan πŸ™‚

    • It is delicious, yes. More refined and elegant than the candy corn hooch πŸ˜‰ If I’m remembering correctly, you do have block parties, etc, yes? I envy that as neighbors would be the best folks to party with as you can always walk home, haha.

      And didn’t you have some neighbors bringing you veggies? Or am I mixing things up?

  5. I feel honored to have made a blog post! While I will greatly miss the in-person insights into food, family, and friendship, I am excited to be able to continue to follow you and yours from across the Midwest.

    And – the crabapple hooch is seriously beautiful and tasty! πŸ™‚

    • awww, thank you, Jessica. Appreciate your comment very much. Though am going to suggest that you get your insight on families from a better source. I can only lead you astray in that dept πŸ˜‰

      Looking forward to a few more toasts before you pack your bags.

  6. Just like the good ole days, sharing food brings neighbors together. Thanks for sharing your hooch, Liz – a trade I feel I came out ahead on…A tiny portion of our crab apple harvest picked for a delicious red treat! Thanks, Liz
    And, Jessica, you will be missed!

  7. Can I just agree with everything that everyone has already said here? πŸ™‚ This looks amazing, and I just love the colour. So perfect for brightening up this time of year, when things are starting to get cold and grey. I love it!

    And the photos turned out really well, too. Especially the one of that high tech filtration system! πŸ˜‰ I know, I know, people have talked about that already, too. This is what happens when CW gets in the way of my real (virtual) life!

    • teehee–just came back from duck and owl (you rocked that post, btw). Sorry to have missed you πŸ˜‰ The party is even more fun now that you’re here. Did you see that my neighbors stopped by? Both Sheila (crabapple tree owner) and Jessica were here. Thrilled to pieces.

      lol high-tech filtration system. Larry came up with that one a chunk of years ago when he started making his annual batch of grape juice from our (extremely modest) grape harvest.

      Yes, agreeing that the color is perfect for gray days, such as today and yesterday and probably most days until next April. Gotta love living in the midwest and its hat. πŸ˜‰ (though you look really good in a hat, so not ribbing you at all)

  8. This does sound good, Liz, though that’s a lengthy prep time. I’d no idea that a liqueur could be produced from crab apples. For years, my Aunt had a tree growing in her yard and we never did a thing with the fruit. Just this Summer, it was cut down. So close. πŸ™‚

    • You’ll have to look for another tree, John. Imagine the fun you could have: jams and jellies, sauces, … You would rock the crabapple world!

      Also, I’m learning that liqueur can be made from just about anything. Fruits and candies, anyway. Just mix with vodka and let steep.

  9. The reason this post pulled me in was because growing up we had a crab apple tree in the backyard. My parents, being from NYC, but opting to raise us upstate always told us not to eat the crab apples. They were bitter and bad for us and might have bugs. We believed them. One time, our parents had a friend over and he ate the forbidden apples. Years later he died of cancer (completely unrelated), but as kids, we KNEW it was the crab apple that killed him. A piece of me was happy you guys survived the crab apple hooch AND a little jealous that I hadn’t discovered you could ferment them sooner! Cheers to your wonderful drink. So glad i discovered your page!

    • Amanda, I love your story–thanks for sharing! Crabapples cause cancer? Heard stranger. Though I think vodka can be medicinal, so perhaps it all balances out.

      Though true story about the bugs–one reason the quartering took so long is that there were bruised and soft spots as well as worm holes to cut out. Eeewwwww.

      Glad you’re here and hope to see you again. Cheers to you as well!

  10. I haven’t heard that word hooch spoken of in such a long time! I think the last time I heard it was watching an Everybody Loves Raymond episode with Frank describing Debra’s problem, which wasn’t really a problem at all!

    Anyway, that’s neither her or there! This sounds like an interesting treat for the liqueur connoisseur. My friends have dabbled in making drinks from all sorts of vegetables, including vodka from potatoes. I’m keeping this recipe for the next time I see them. I’m sure it will be an interesting topic of conversation!

    • Didn’t follow Raymond, though hooch seems a word he would have used. Made rhubarb vodka last spring, and my Godmother christened it “rhubarb hooch.” Loved the word so much I will now apply it to any and all home-brewed spirits.

      Would love to hear more about your friends’ drink dabbling. Vodka from potatoes sounds about as DIY as you can get.

      Thanks for your visit, Jack. Loved that you put up a food post over at your place. Curry chicken is a favorite restaurant order, but now I have a recipe from a trusted source πŸ™‚

    • πŸ™‚ Oh how I wish I could share! Should you ever find yourself in Minnesota, give me a holler and I’ll pour you a glass.

      Just decanted a few more jars tonight and it was especially fun to taste the jar that got tequila instead of vodka as I had run out of vodka. Tastes like a margarita! I know what I’ll do with my last batch of crabapples–vodka out, tequila in!

      Thanks so much for coming over, Miss W. Great to see you here.

  11. Your crab apple post reminds me of my mother she had always talked about making pies out of crab apples. I have never tasted crab apples I hear they are tart.Your drink looks good too.

    • Thanks, Niki! Exactly why I love all things food–the memories they form are indelible. Yes, crabapples are tart tart tart, hence the need for plenty of sugar. Thought about making a pie, but would have eaten it in a day or so and if I’m coring so many tiny apples, I’m making something that lasts much longer.

    • Thanks for your comment! Have to say the crabapple liqueur is one of my proudest food achievements πŸ™‚

      Curious if there’s a way to follow your blog so I get email notification. I don’t follow my wordpress reader much, so usually miss posts unless I’m alerted via email. Or is your blog on facebook?

      • I’m not on FB, but if you go to your reader and hold your mouse over any one of the blogs you follow you can opt to get email notifications (either instantly, daily, or weekly). Thanks, and happy halloween! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Andi. I’ll be sure to bring a jar whenever I finally get myself over your way. Would go over very well at a PTA meeting πŸ˜‰

      I’ve been experimenting a bit and also tried a batch with tequila and one with brandy. The tequila was fantastic–tasted like a margarita. You would like especially!

    • Thanks, Jayne πŸ™‚ Agreed–the color is fantastic. No red dye #6 for sure. I wouldn’t have used crabapples if they hadn’t been growing across the street from me. Have occasionally seen them at farmers’ markets, but they’re always twice or three times the size. Can’t imagine harvesting these on a larger scale.

  12. A glass full of beauty and fresh flavor and a whole lot of oomph factors πŸ™‚
    Enjoyed your cute, little, real, honest, unpretentious photos. And of course the story about your gracious neighbor πŸ™‚
    Love; thanks for sharing the gorgeous recipe.


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