Crabapple Liqueur

When we moved into our home a few years ago, we were excited to discover that four of the trees in our yard were fruit bearing. We have three pear trees, but unfortunately the fruit is totally inedible. Pears fall too early from the trees each summer, littering the lawn and attracting birds; when they begin to sweeten and then rot, we’ve got bees and wasps. Eventually, we plan on removing these trees and planting something else in our backyard. We decided to plant two more fruit trees this spring on our property. Our front yard is now home to a sour cherry tree and a White Lady peach tree, and we are looking forward to using these fruits for jams, crisps, and fresh-fruit eating!

There is another tree in our yard that bears fruit. It’s a squat crabapple tree that blooms with massive amounts of white flowers in the spring, and then begins to form fruits in early summer. We love coming up with new projects, and any project that allows us to exercise our inner mad-scientists is a project that we take on with zeal.

I do not remember how our plan was hatched, but one summer we decided that the beautiful red-pink crabapples that were ripening on our tree could not go unused. I thought about all the ways regular apples were used and I quickly crossed off all the usual recipe ideas off the list. Crabapples are super tart and really not something you can eat raw, save for a taste right off the tree each summer. David and I decided to try something we’d never made before: Crabapple Liqueur.

We found a recipe somewhere on the internet (and actually, now that I think of it, I’m not even sure the recipe was crabapple liqueur) and decided to give it a try. If you ask any of my friends, they will attest that crabapple liqueur is quite tasty, and I liken the flavor to a Jolly Rancher candy.

The recipe is EASY. The results are AMAZING. We make multiple batches of this and give little bottles out as gifts. We even know another couple who's started making their own versions and we've gotten together in the Fall for an evening of liqueur tasting!

We know our crabapples are ripe when they are bright red and starting to give off a fragrant scent (which is NOW!)

Recipe: Crabapple Liqueur
Makes 4 quarts

You'll need:
  • two 4-quart jars with a tight fitting lid (We recycled glass lemonade bottles, but you could use big Mason Jars)
  • a funnel
  • cheese cloth
  • 4 quarts ripe crabapples, washed and quartered
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1 bottle of vodka, 750 ml is plenty (No need to rack up a bill at the liquor store. We purchase a handle of Smirnoff Red and it's perfectly fine.)

Fill clean, dry jar with crabapples. Add sugar and top off with vodka. Screw lid on tightly. Store jar on it's side for two weeks in a location where the jars will be undisturbed, preferably not in direct sunlight. Rotate the jar once a day, so that sediment doesn't form and the liquid mixes evenly.

After 14 days, filter into another clean jar by slowly pouring into a funnel with a piece of cheesecloth over top. This will help catch the sediment and apples. (You could also use the empty bottle from the vodka you used to store your liqueur.)

Note: We visit our local Beer and Wine Making store and pick up empty, attractive bottles to store the liqueur. They're perfect for little gifts.


  1. So glad to find this recipe. My crabapple tree is loaded and I'm going to try this liqueur. Thanks.

  2. Hey, you should look into how pears should be harvested. Often, they are harvested before they are ripe, and wrapped in paper and placed in a cool room. This might be the trick for you.

    Thanks for your crabapple liquer recipe. I just scored 5 lbs of fruit from an abandoned tree.

  3. The crab apple recipe seems like the ones I have seen before. Will give it a go tonight. It seems a shame to remove the pear trees, you should look in to the reasons for the fruit falling before it is ripe. It is probably some sort of parasite that you would easily be able to remove. Our apples were infected by codling moths, it causes the core of the apple to go rotten due to a grub which bores out. It causes the apples to drop early before they are sweet.

  4. Just wanted to tell you that I did a batch of this recipe this fall and everybody thinks it's fantastic. By the time it was finished and sampled it was too late to start another batch so we've been sipping it mindfully and looking forward to next harvest!

  5. I just found this recipe with Google. I'm excited to try when the crab apple tree at our house ripens. It may be a battle between me and time though!

  6. From Dana & Sharon
    We were delighted to find your recipe and this is our first year trying it.
    When we strained out the liquer We found we had eight cups of crabapples left - we had cored them first before we put in the sugar and Vodka. We didn't want to waste them so we created a version of apple butter.
    8 cups of cored crabapples - chop till fairly fine in a food processor and add 5 cups of water, a squeeze of lemon. Simmer till soft and add 2 packages of no sugar needed pectin and follow pectin instructions.
    Makes 4 - 500 ml jars - process in boiling water
    We hope you enjoy the "leftover" crabapples.

  7. Pears do need to be harvested before they are ripe. They will come free from the tree easily in about 2 to 3 twists. You should then place them in a cool place or your refrigerator for 7 to 10 days and then remove them. At that time you can wrap the pears in paper to store - do not store with potatoes - or let them ripen, which is usually in a day or so after the cool down period. You can tell they are ripe by pushing on the top near the stem. If it gives, then they are ripe, if it is still hard, they are not. Pears will ripen from the inside outward so this is the only way to tell and sometimes if they are large, then that is not a sure thing. However, if you do the above, you will have less on your yard and more in your belly and pears are wonderful. You can also make Perry out of them - pear wine - that is just amazing. Make sure to bottle Perry in heavy champagne bottles though as it is prone to explode the regular wine bottles. Apple Pear Sauce is a wonderful combo too and brandied pears. Don't cut those trees down, just learn about the right time to pick. Did you know that pear trees can live to be 300 years old?

  8. I've been making this for years, I use a large glass gallon jar and fill it with uncut crab apples, add 4 cups sugar and about a 26 of Vodka, I just rotate the jar, setting on the top and then the bottom about once a week and leave it for almost at least a month before straining. Lovely stuff! :)

  9. this recipes was DELICIOUS!! I look forward to making an even larger batch next year when we have more crabapples! Thank you for the recipe!



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