Facts & Folkore:
The crabapple is one of the wild species of the domesticated orchard apple, with generally an extremely sour and bitter taste due to malic acid, and for this reason is rarely eaten raw. In some southeast Asian cultures they are valued as a sour condiment, sometimes eaten with salt and chili 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. Crabapples are also popular as compact ornamental trees, providing blossom in Spring and colourful fruit in Autumn. The crab apple is one of the nine plants invoked in the 10th century Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm as a dispeller of poison. In Celtic folklore, crab apples have long been associated with love and marriage. It was said that if you throw the pips into the fire while saying the name of your love, the love is true if the pips explode. The Egremont Crab Fair in Cumbria dates from 1267 and is held annually in September. It grew out of the medieval tradition whereby serfs to the Manor of Egremont gathered wild fruits, and with their vegetables, corn and animals went to pay their dues to the Lord of the Manor. The Lord of Egremont started a tradition of giving away crab apples and the Parade of the Apple Cart is still the central event, where crab apples are thrown to the crowds which throng Main Street.
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