Thursday, September 1, 2011

Preserving Apples, Part 1

Isn't it pretty?  And they taste a-ma-zing.  Crispy, flavorful, and sweet!
I've been so thrilled this past week with the abundant apple "crop" at our new house!  And you know I can't stand to just let them sit there.  We've been on the run so much this summer that I haven't been able to do much preserving, but I'm determined to get some of those apples stored away, in various forms.

The easiest method I'm trying this year is just packing them away in the basement (which is old, cold, and unfinished).  Hopefully it'll be a good place for them to keep a few months.  I followed the instructions from an article at the Backwoods Home website.  Basically you: 1) select only unbruised, unblemished apples; 2) wrap in black and white newspaper; 3) pack carefully in cardboard boxes.  Easy.  Of course, I still have to see if it actually works!  Hopefully I don't go down to the basement in a month and find a box full of rotten apple mush.

Yesterday I made spiced crabapple butter--one of my very favorite bread-topping treats!  Making apple butter isn't hard.  It's just a lot of work.  The boys and I picked about 1/2 a crate of crabapples (and a few regular apples, just for good measure).  Then I followed this recipe, given to me by a good friend in Bronson. She found it in an "old-fashioned" canning and preserving book.  I like this recipe because you can use if for whatever quantity of crabapples you happen to have on hand.

Wash and cut apples into quarters, without paring or coring.  Place in kettle with just enough water to cover, and cook slowly until tender.  Press through a colander or sieve.  Measure the strained pulp.  Add 1/2 as much sugar as pulp.  Bring to a boil and cook until mixture is thick.  [Stir often or it'll stick and burn!!]  Pack into clean, hot jars.  Seal.

I also added some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves for a nice spiced flavor.  My 1/2 crate yielded about 10 pints. I would really recommend using smaller jars--maybe 8 oz. jars--since we usually don't go through apple butter really fast, but pints were what I had around the house yesterday!  I also recently discovered a super easy way to sterilize and seal jars for high-acid/sugar foods, from the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.  You put your clean jars and bands on a cookie sheet into a preheated 250 degree oven for 30 minutes while preparing your food to be canned.  Then, when you're ready to pack the jars, you just pull them out of the oven, fill them (make sure you clean the rims), secure the lids and bands, and put them back in the oven for 15 minutes.  So much easier than the hot water bath method!  The book is simply beautiful as well...highly recommended!

Earlier this summer we also did some bread and butter pickles, thanks to our neighbor who grows veggies for the Clarkston Farmers Market.  We did decide to spare Cornelia the Cuke though, because she was just too cute.

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