Ripening Guide

Learn more about the many fruits of Toronto's Urban Orchard


Crabapples are one of Toronto’s most underapreciated fruits, but when harvested and shared, they can be transformed into all kinds of delectable goods – think jelly, syrup, sauces and pies. Edible crabapples are basically mini apples that vary in size from about 3/4 to two inches – any smaller than this, and they are considered “ornamental,” and will be too bitter to be edible. They grow on long stems, similar to cherries, and have crownlike sepals at their bases that can fall off when ripe. Crabapples can vary in colour from deep red to yellowish-orange.

  • July
  • August
  • September

How to tell when crabapples are ripe: When the seeds have turned brown. To check for seed colour, pick a few crabapples from different parts of the tree and cut them in half to find the seeds. The flesh should be firm and crisp but not so hard that you struggle to take a bite. When ripe the flavour is typically a mix of sweet and tart. If they aren’t ripe, they’ll taste bitter.

When to submit a pick request: We’ll need some advance notice to schedule your pick, so please submit a fruit pick request 3-5 days before your fruit is ready. Note: if crabapples are less than 3/4 inch when ripe, they are likely too small for Not Far From The Tree to harvest and share.

Picking tips: Pick by hand or with fruit picking poles. You can also shake the branches and let the crabapples fall onto a tarp below – they won’t bruise very easily so they can handle the drop.

Eating tips: Crabapples can be quite tart so you’ll usually want to process them rather than eating raw.

Storage tips: Some varieties last a few days, while others will last for a few months. For best results, store them in a sealed container in the fridge as crabapples can pick up flavours from other foods like apples do. Crabapples also freeze well.

  • Have a Crabapple Tree? Register it now.
  • Want to pick Crabapples? Join our Picking Team.

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