For the Malus domestica cultivars, the cultivated apples, see Apple. The fruit of the other species is not an important crop in most areas, being extremely sour and (in some species) woody, and is rarely eaten raw for this reason. In some southeast Asian cultures they are valued as a sour condiment, sometimes eaten with salt and chilli pepper, or shrimp paste.
Crabapples are an excellent source of pectin, and their juice can be made into a ruby-coloured preserve with a full, spicy flavour. A small percentage of crabapples in cider makes a more interesting flavour. As Old English Wergulu, the crab apple is one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century.
Crabapples are widely grown as ornamental trees, grown for their beautiful flowers or fruit, with numerous cultivars selected for these qualities and for resistance to disease.
Some crabapples are used as rootstocks for domestic apples to add beneficial characteristics. For example, varieties of Baccata, also called Siberian crab, rootstock is used to give additional cold hardiness to the combined plant for orchards in cold northern areas.
They are also used as pollinizers in apple orchards. Varieties of crabapple are selected to bloom contemporaneously with the apple variety in an orchard planting, and the crabs are planted every sixth or seventh tree, or limbs of a crab tree are grafted onto some of the apple trees. In emergencies, a bucket or drum bouquet of crabapple flowering branches are placed near the beehives as orchard pollenizers. See also Fruit tree pollination. Because of the plentiful blossoms and small fruit, crabapples are popular for use in bonsai culture.
Apple wood gives off a pleasant scent when burned, and smoke from an apple wood fire gives an excellent flavour to smoked foods. It is easier to cut when green; dry apple wood is exceedingly difficult to carve by hand It is a good wood for cooking fires because it burns hot and slow, without producing much flame.
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