Instant Pot Crab Apple Sauce

It's apple season in Minnesota.  They are everywhere.  The University of Minnesota has been developing apples specific to the region forever, and those varieties are now also grown in other states.

Big lush, tasty, crisp, apples.


And then there is the under appreciated crab apple.

No....not a grumpy sour person, the actual small apple.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

We have five orchards (maybe more I'm loosing count) within ten miles of our house, so if I want apples for something I can have them in a wink of an eye.

We also have two different variety of apple trees in our yard, named after my parents and planted in remembrance the years of their death. I know what tree is named for whom, but I have no idea anymore what variety they are.  Yummy... I'll call them the yummy variety.

And about lushes; there are approximately the same amount of wineries within 20 minutes, but after I eat their grapes I'm not capable of typing up a blog post.  I guess grape juice from a winery is a bit different than apple juice from the grocery store.

synonyms: succulent, luscious, juicy, soft, tender, ripe
noun: lush; plural noun: lushes
a heavy drinker, especially a habitual one. 

The University of Minnesota does research and develops wine grapes, and also has a hops breeding program - not the kind you do on one leg - the kind you brew beer with.  Those two facts might explain all the craft breweries and wineries around here.

*Fun News; The UofM has developed a pink blueberry called the Pink Popcorn® Blueberry - sort of an oxymoron, and yes it is pink.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

So what is a crab apple really?  Heck if I know, so I'll do a Google search right now.....

Looks like a crabapple has the same genes as regular apples, and then the web tells me different things.....  Like they are bitter, but not all of them are bitter.  They are smaller, but not always smaller, and on and on the contradictions go.

The web couldn't even agree how I should spell it; crabapples, crab-apples, or crab apples, so I've used it all those ways.  My spell check wants me to spell it as two words, crab apple, the UofM folks who know their apples use it on their web site as one word, crabapple, and Merriam Webster tells me crab apple is two words and they are sour. Because I like hyphens I'm gonna throw in a few crab-apples. 

So anyhow...every year a bag of crab apples show up on our porch from a thoughtful cousin.

Some years their tree is a sight to behold, totally overloaded with the little gems and some years there is barely enough to pawn off, err... I mean share.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

I find them to be fairly sweet, but soft.  The crab apples, not the cousins.

I don't enjoy the tiny size enough to just gnaw on them to get my daily requirement of fruit, although they are perfectly fine to do so.  I like my eating apples sweeter, crisper and larger!

Brawn however will eat them just as they are, but you can't really trust the taste buds of a man who loves pickled gizzards.

The photo below shows one of the larger crabapples next to an average size apple from the grocery store.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

The size of the crab-apple tree harvest determines the size of the bag of apples that shows up on my porch, but over the years the average bounty has always been about the same.

Except this year.

Arriving home from a shopping trip I found a huge bag of crabapples waiting for me on the porch.  My first thought was how thoughtful, and my second thought was crap what am I going to do with them all?

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

There were way too many for the pickled gizzard man to consume in a reasonable amount of time and the thought of peeling all those little buggers for some tasty dessert wasn't a task I would enjoy.

But the truth of the matter was, I don't like eating crabapples, I had never baked with a crab apple, and I secretly held the thought that there must be something wrong with a crab-apple.  Silly me.

#2 Daughter makes apple sauce from our own apple trees so I never needed to learn, but I can be a domestic goddess if I have too, and it turned out that with an Instant Pot sauce couldn't be easier.

But wait... those little devils still need to be cored and peeled, and I'm a lazy domestic goddess.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

Cored yes, but really do they have to be peeled?

I've made apple pies before and not peeled the apples, so what do I have to lose - the apples were free - and I've got that easy pot to cook them in.

So for the first time in my... ummmm... "abundant" years, I decided to make some apple sauce with the first batch being an experiment, and the second fine tuned if needed.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

I washed all the little crabs up, cored them and took off any spots that I didn't like the look of.  Crab apples can be a rather beat up looking fruit when they are organic.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce
Tossed in Brown Sugar & Cinnamon

I had no rhyme or reason to the cut size - quartered - but there were some that the quarter was larger and some pieces that were small, they all got tossed in peels on.

To the Instant Pot I added 1/2 cup of water, cinnamon, and about 1/3 cup of packed brown sugar.  Then in the first batch I added a splash of vanilla, on the second batch I added one splash of lemon juice and no vanilla.  Both batches also receivved a pinch of sea salt in the pot before cooking.

Both batches were different but tasted the same.  Other than the apples and the water, everything else is optional.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

There was approximately 4 pounds of cut apples in each batch, you can see where that filled the Instant Pot to on the top left of the above photo.

I weighed the crab apples after they were cored and sliced.  I think I could have used the ingredients in the same amount and gone with 5 pounds of apples in the instant pot.  I will try that next time.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

I set the Instant Pot to manual for 8 minutes and used natural release.  When I try 5 pounds I might increase the time to 9 minutes since a bigger batch will be a new experiment.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

When the pot was done doing it's work I used an immersion blender that sports a button from when avocado green was a thing.  But of course I am too young to have ever wanted appliances in that color, so the one I own came from a garage sale.  I've had it for maybe 30 years (is that past the time of wanting avocado appliances?) so to prove it's age and not mine, I will point out that the green isn't the popular mint green like it looks in the photo, in person it is avocado.

I never seem to use the immersion blender, but like everything else, it's taking up space in my cabinets so on the rare occasion I need it - like making this sauce - I have one.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

The photo above is what the apples looked like when the lid came off the Instant Pot and all the juice the apples themselves create goes right back into the sauce.

The immersion blender worked perfect for the skin on apples, and made butter smooth sauce with nary a trace of peels.

Because I'm not a food blogger, just a food eater, yes it looks like vomit all blended up.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

Really, you wouldn't have to add brown sugar or cinnamon, but my sauce is more of a treat.  If I was making baby food there would be nothing in it but apples.

The cinnamon makes the sauce a darkish brown, and was a request from one of my sons. My taste buds requested the brown sugar.
Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

So the amount of apples used was approximated 8 pounds and the yield of sauce was two quart jars, one pint and a good size cereal bowl full to eat right away.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

As I was typing this up a willing 7 year old was passing by, who accepted a sample and gave an enthusiastic mmmmmm, this is good.

I have to agree.

Crab Apple Instant Pot Sauce

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  1. I read this as "Instant Crab Pot Apple Sauce". Oh my eyes!! I used to eat crab apples as a kid and they'd give me a stomach ache. They were also way smaller than yours are! This sauce sounds fantastic!

  2. This looks so good! My apples are ready for picking...they are organic, too, so have spots to cut off. This would be a perfect way to use them!

  3. oh i can't wait to make some applesauce in my insta pot. not sure if we have crab apples around here or not. I love applesauce or apple butter on oatmeal in the winter time.

  4. I have never made applesauce and applaud you! I am also not a domestic goddess and try to do minimal work in the kitchen now that our children are grown and gone, but that sounds delicious and I might (maybe) just have to try to make some.

  5. I didn't want an insta pot until you made apple sauce in yours!

    Guess my apple sauce will cost a few hundred dollars but it will be good, right?!

    This looks delish and apple sauce is my thing. Hmm....

  6. Our crab apples were always teeny-tiny and reddish. Probably an ornamental hybrid. It had to smell so good in your house while you were insta cooking those apples. Wish I could have been there. Yum. Cinnamon and brown sugar work great for me, too.

  7. I freeze my apple sauce in small containers. It retains its colour and tastes really fresh!

  8. Love this recipe and how you have written it. Your humour is a great addition. My grandkids and I picked crab apples last night and this is what I’m going to make.

  9. Do I have to have an instant pot to make this recipe?

  10. Sherry9/11/2021

    I just made this using the crabapples from my yard...there are waayyy too many for the deer to eat this year! It turned out great (in fact, I have another batch in the pot right now)! I used Splenda brown sugar mix, since we're trying to limit our sugar intake. I didn't have an apple corer, but did have one of those circular slicer/corer things for the 'big' apples. I was afraid that using it would be overkill, but it worked great...timesaver! Also used my Ninja on a smoothie setting, instead of my immersion blender which has been on its last leg for quite some time. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, and for the enjoyable read!


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