Tree of the week: the crab apple tree that makes booze

Annie Frazer moved into her home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a year ago and was immediately smitten with the crab apple tree that lives in her garden. “We’ve not been together that long, but we love her,” she says. “She’s gorgeous.”

The former linguist, 52, who is originally from Sheffield, lives with her husband, Greg, and their teenage sons, Josh and Benjie. She loves how the tree blooms a deep pink for two weeks in May – a brief but impressive transformation. “It’s a stunner. Behind it is a very large cottonwood tree, so just after the crab apple has blossomed, there’s cotton that floats all around the place. It’s really lovely.”

The crab apples are too small and sour to be used for cooking, but Frazer recently spent the weekend picking them to make a liqueur. “You have to get a large fermenting jar,” she says. “You just stew the apples for a few weeks. You keep turning them, then in goes the vodka and in goes the sugar. It ferments, and then you drink it. No idea what it’ll taste like, but we’re going to go for it.”

The tree is the first thing Frazer sees when she opens her bedroom curtains and takes a look at the world outside. “She’s like an old lady who just hangs out in our back garden. It’s definitely a woman because she keeps changing clothes. No matter what the season is, she does her thing.”

She enjoys seeing all the “different coats and dresses” it wears during the year. “The tree is draped in crystal-white snow for up to six months of the year. It is very beautiful and it hangs off the branches. Then suddenly you get pops of green. Spring can come as late as May.” After the tree blooms, the blossoms quickly drop off. “It’s very pretty, with them raining on to the grass. Now it’s very much getting that autumnal look where the leaves are going a bit orange. And you’ve got tons of the mini crab apples, so there’s red everywhere.”

Frazer loves how the tree gives her a sense of perspective. “It helps you take that extra deep breath that probably everybody needs to take each day,” she says. “Trees definitely let you know that they’re older and wiser than you and you’re just a fleeting little dot in time.”


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