The last time I did this the basic recipe turned out well, so I decided to branch out a little this year. So far I have made:
Basic pickled crabapples: 4 large (1 pint) jars, 1 with cloves, 1 with stick cinnamon, 1 with both, and 1 with neither. They were a little sweet last time, so I cut the sugar down a bit.
Crabapple chutney: 2 big jars, 1 little jar. Quite tart, but very tasty. I almost forgot the onion, but remembered in time to chop it up and throw it in halfway through cooking. It's a pretty easy recipe and you just keep it in the fridge instead of processing the filled jars in boiling water for 45 minutes, so it's definitely on my "make-again" list.
5-Spice Pickled Crabapples: 6 small jars, 1 large. Uses rice vinegar instead of regular and a whole lotta five-spice powder. The syrup tasted really good, so I'm hoping they'll turn out well.
Cider Pickled Crabapples: 7 small jars, 1 large, plus a bunch more to come. This is sort of my own creation. I bought a big jug of apple cider vinegar for a different recipe before deciding it was too weird/fussy/inconvenient, so I decided to use it in the basic recipe. I also liked the sweet/sour balance in the 5-spice pickles, so I adjusted the ratios in my basic recipe more that direction. Added cloves, stick cinnamon, and a couple black peppercorns to each jar. The syrup was great, so if they turn out as well as I think they will, I do believe this is going to be my new basic recipe. It's also pretty easy, so that's what I'm planning to fill the rest of the jars with.
Brine-Pickled Crabapples: 3 big jars of basic (garlic and bay leaf) and 3 big jars of Laotian (brown sugar, vinegar, garlic). These were TERRIBLE! Awful. Inedible. The idea with brine pickling is that you just toss your vegetables into a saltwater solution and let them ferment; the naturally-occurring lactobacillus bacteria create lactic acid that sours the pickles and (once the levels are high enough) kills off all the other bacteria and prevents decay. Well, the problem is, that only really produces an edible end product if what you originally put in there was something you could eat as-is in the first place. The crabapples from our tree are too sour to eat without adding sugar, and letting them ferment didn't help matters.
We tested the brine pickles yesterday and then dumped them out. Now I had six extra big jars to fill, so yesterday afternoon I took my bucket and my ladder over to this tree on the side street behind the supermarket that has been dropping pretty red-and-yellow apples for weeks now. The other night I was overcome by curiosity in the drive home, and pulled a couple off to taste. They're actually quite good! Some are granny smith tart, some are sweeter than that. So I filled up my bucket with those, and I'll use them for filling up the rest of my jars. I'm going to try brine-pickling the ones that are in the best shape, but I'll just do it in a big open container rather than putting them in jars.
So yeah. Pickled crabapples. We will have lots and lots.