Is Consumption of Crabapples Safe for Humans?

Is Consumption of Crabapples Safe for Humans?

Since generations, the crabapple has been made infamous with stories of poisoning and belly aches, where mothers have warned their children to avoid these fruits altogether. However, there are many people who eat crabapples regularly, and turn them into tasty jellies and jams without any negative effects. So what is the actual truth? Let us find out and settle the debate once and for all.
Did You Know?
The genus of crabapples, 'Malus', means bad or evil. The name comes from the biblical story of Eve eating the apple, causing the first sin.
Crabapple trees are commonly found in the cooler temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. These trees grow to around 10 meters in height, with a dense foliage. They usually have beautiful five-petaled flowers, which give small, tart fruits as a result of cross-pollination. Although the fruits are not popular due to their extremely sour taste, they are used to create lovely preserves and sauces. Besides this, some species are used to make great, refreshing cider, while others are used in alternative medicine. Also, the wood of the tree is a popular choice to burn and use while smoking food.

Now, every coin has two sides. People eating crabapples have had a long history of getting sick and experiencing belly aches. There have also been rumors about people eating these fruits who have committed suicide. Such stories, over a long period of time, have convinced people to look at crabapples with dread. So are these fruits really that dangerous? Let us find out if these tales have any truth to them.

Are Crabapples Edible?
Are crabapples safe to eat? If you have the same question running through your mind, there is some good news. These fruits are not only edible, but quite nutritious too. The best part is that they can be used in many ways to create sauces, spreads, jellies, cakes, pickles, cocktails, and liqueurs. Although you might get a stomach ache by eating too many in the raw form, cooking the fruit solves this issue too. Another thing to keep in mind is that a few animals may show adverse reactions after eating crabapples; however, humans do not have as much of a problem.

Toxicity in Crabapples
The important thing to remember is that certain parts of the tree, such as the leaves, stems, and the seeds in the fruit are toxic to most mammals, including humans. This happens because some substances known as cyanogenic glycosides are present in the seeds, leaves, and stems. These chemical compounds turn into cyanide after entering the digestive tract. Depending on the amount consumed, the poisoning may result in stomach cramps, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and seizures. Cases of coma are extremely rare, and death due the consumption of crabapples is almost unheard of. Since people do not normally eat the leaves or stems of the plant, the chances of getting poisoned are slim. Even the seeds pass harmlessly through the digestive tract, as long as they are whole and are not crushed or broken by chewing or other means. If proper care is taken, consumption of this fruit poses no harm.

Safety Measures
Ingesting small amounts of seeds or a bit of stem might cause you slight gastric distress, but nothing more. However, who wants to experience even that? So, if you want to enjoy the most out of crabapples, while staying completely out of trouble, you have to follow a few guidelines:
  • Toddlers and pets are the most susceptible to getting poisoned by crabapples, simply because they eat anything they find on the ground, including the stems, leaves, and seeds. So, special care should be taken while they are in the vicinity of the trees or fruits.
  • Make sure that you completely take out the core of the fruit before consumption. This eliminates any chance of you getting poisoned by the seeds.
  • While foraging for crabapples, be careful about the quality of fruit, to avoid gastric irritation after consumption.

Since the amount of toxins in the seeds, leaves, and stems are very small, a person would need to eat significantly large quantities to risk any severe side effects. So, in conclusion, we could say that this fruit is poisonous, but with proper care, you can utilize it to its full potential, while enjoying some really tasty food.