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Siberian crabapples are small fruits measuring an inch or less in diameter. They are red or yellow depending on the variety, some with a blueish bloom. Some have an inner pulp that ranges in color from a saturated maroon color to only light striations of red running throughout. These crabapples are brightly acidic with a slightly softer texture. Siberian crabapple trees are very large and drought and cold tolerant.
Siberian crabapples are available in late summer through winter.
Siberian crabapples are known botanically as Malus baccata, part of the Rosaceae family. The Siberian crabapple is often used for experimental breeding and grafting of other crab apple varieties because of its cold hardiness. There are several varieties of Siberian crab, including Red, Yellow, and Dolgo.
Crabapples contain many important nutrients. They are particularly high in Vitamin C, but also have calcium, iron, potassium, copper, and more.
Crabapples have a very astringent, tart taste, and are usually unpleasant to eat fresh. However, they make excellent jelly, jam, and sauce, and have traditionally been used in cider. They pair well with strong blue cheeses, such as English stilton.
Siberian crabapples have many uses beyond the culinary. They are sometimes planted as windbreaks on farms, provide cover and food for wildlife such as deer and birds, produce wood, and are useful as ornamental trees.
While Siberian crabs originated in Asia, they have made their way to the United States in a variety of ways. The Dolgo variety was brought to the Dakotas from Russia by a plant breeder in 1897, while Red Siberian was brought from France. As their name suggests, Siberian crabapples are particularly hardy and grow well in cold climates.