Edible Crabapple of the Week: Maypole

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  Springtime comes to Autumn in the Eugene and Judy Pouly Domaine and Chatfield tables this evening: we shall be dancing around our Maypoles. No, we have not fast-forwarded the seasons. Instead we are enjoying the fruits of springtime flowers. To the point, ‘Maypole’ crabapple fruits turned into sauce so sweet and yet so sour.


Maypole crabapple sauce

  In the world of ornamental crabapples, defined as apple types that have fruits that at maturity are less than 2 inches in diameter, ‘Maypole’ and cultivars such as ‘Dolgo’ and ‘Centurion’ are oft neglected since they can provide a mess with their over 1-inch diameter fruits. Ornamental crabapples that are widely planted are more in the 3/8-inch to 5/8-inch range. The next picture depicts two Maypoles, one partly eaten by yours truly, and quite good on its own, next to the size of a Sargent crabapple fruit. Maypole and Sargent crabappel fruits

  Nevertheless, the larger fruited crabapples have their virtues and landscaper and nurseryman Gene Pouly, when he designed the Cornerstone Park years ago in Orrville, went with these upright ‘Maypole’ trees, in addition to more typical landscape crabapples such as the dwarf Malus sargentii. This past Saturday, I asked Gene if I could harvest some fruits of Gene’s labors. He said yes, and voila!

Orrville's Cornerstone Park


Dedication plaque at Orrville's Park


  Well, there was a quite necessary intermediate step – the labours of my wife Laura. As she has done for many years with ‘Dolgo’ crabapples, she slaved at coring small fruits, use of a fruit mill, and a recipe modified from Ohio and Oregon nurseryman Mike Lee.  Here follows the recipe for his Mike Lee’s Nearly World Famous Dolgo Crabapple Butter.

  The recipe: Start with 8 lbs of crabapples.  Wash in a large kettle and cover with water.  Heat to a boil. Simmer until fruit softens.  Drain, then process through a mill.  To the sauce add 3 lb of sugar, two quarts of cider, one tablespoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of cloves. Simmer under low heat or use a large crock pot for 2-4 hours. Stir occasionally. As Mike notes, the house will then smell great.  Pour off hot Dolgo butter into jars. Process in a hot water bath or freeze.    


Laura Chatfield's Dolgo crabapple butter


 Laura’s Dolgo butter once defeated Mike’s version in a taste-off in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, even by vote of  Mike’s employees. Her secret – go easy on the sugar and boiling time. Her version is a ruby red color rather than the usual dark apple butter look and considerably tarter than Mike’s version. Or perhaps it is just Ohio vs. Oregon-grown crabapples that resulted in the win. If you are reading this, Mike, perhaps a re-match is in order?


Laura Chatfield's Maypole crabapple sauce


  The ‘Maypole’ sauce is more sauce-y than butter, and a lighter color. But it is a wonderful slice of the rainbow.