Is It Safe to Eat Raw Crab Apples? Read This First

You probably shouldn't eat one right off a tree.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Jun. 13 2024, Published 2:59 p.m. ET

Crab apples are pictured growing on a tree in an orchard.
Source: iStock

Those adorable miniature apples you may find on trees in front of schools and parks and in suburbs throughout the U.S. aren't just for beautification purposes. Crab apple trees are a fixture in many communities, but are crab apples edible?

Before you pick that alluring crab apple from your neighbor's tree and make a fruit salad this summer, keep reading to find out if it's safe to do so.

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Can crab apples be consumed raw? Why are they so tiny? Can you include them in a fresh fruit smoothie or scrumptious dessert? We've got all these answers and more below.

A person holds five crab apples still attached to a vine with green leaves in their left hand.
Source: iStock
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Can you eat crab apples?

According to WebMD, crab apples are safe to eat, but it's best not to consume them raw straight from the tree. Unless your tastebuds are immune to the ultra-bitter taste of a raw crab apple picked from the tree, you'll enjoy them much more after a little time has passed, or if they're baked in a yummy dessert.

If your neighbor's crab apple tree was the siren song you couldn't resist and you ate a raw crab apple, you'll be relieved to know the flesh of the crab apple is safe to consume. However, just as the seeds of other apple varieties have a compound that can become cyanide, you must avoid the seeds and core of a crab apple to be safe.

(When apple seeds are crushed or chewed, the amygdalin within it undergoes a chemical reaction that in turn produces cyanide, which is toxic, per MedicalNewsToday.)

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What does a crab apple taste like?

As the post above explains, a crab apple tastes like a mix between an apple and a sour lollipop. As per Taste of Home, the bitter taste in its raw form and its high amount of pectin make this apple variety much more suitable for apple butters, jams, and pies.

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As Redditors note, some varieties of crab apple trees produce fruit that is tart or otherwise nasty. However, something magical happens when an otherwise unappetizing fruit is mixed with the right amount of sugar and other tasty ingredients.

"There very dry and sour-sweet. They’d make fantastic cider!" one Reddit user excitedly explains.

An apple pie is pictured above a table with loose apples, green leaves, a napkin, and forks.
Source: iStock
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Crab apple recipes:

If your mouth isn't watering by now, it soon will be after reading these vegan-friendly crab apple recipes.

This maple crab apple butter recipe from Forager | Chef is the perfect choice for the fall season thanks to the pinch of cinnamon and the inclusion of delectable maple syrup. From October until all my jars of apple butter run out, I put the spread on everything, from bagels and croissants to marinades for vegan meat.

There is no wrong time for an apple pie, and this maple miso vegan crabapple pie recipe from Very Vegan Val is droolworthy from the name alone. Blog owner Valerie incorporates maple syrup and miso paste in the filling to create a breathtaking taste unlike any you've ever experienced.

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