Thursday, September 3, 2009

Putting Apples By

"There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall." ... Robert Frost
Some women I know wanted to learn how about the old art of “putting food by.” I’ve always loved making jam, putting it in a sparkling clean (read sterilized) jar, processing it in a hot water bath until it was sealed up tight for the winter. The jars of jam look like jewels on my pantry shelf. I also love to put applesauce by and tomatoes.
We decided to start with applesauce.
The beautiful thing about this event was that everyone participated. Andrea found lots of apples for free. Joey and Jack helped us pick some from our own trees. Tara bought some apples, took pictures and scrubbed my entire kitchen after the work was done. Karlene brought supplies and lemon juice. Maggie provided apple cider with lots of good cheer and Valerie contributed lids for the jars and lots of funny comments. Linda and Joanna came for a little while with their big smiles and friendly manner and helped to work during the most hectic work time. Everyone enjoyed working hard together.
Karlene, Linda and Andrea filling the jars
Applesauce

Ingredients:
approximately 2 ¼ pound of apples to 1 quart of applesauce
apple cider
lemon juice

Supplies:
canning Jars, lids and rings sterilized
hot water bath
jar lifter
knife, sterilized
wide mouth funnel
towels, clean rags

Apples:
Wash apples and quarter – no need to peel and pit
Cook them in a large pot in apple cider. Use enough to provide a liquid base so that the apples will not burn. Simmer this until the apples are tender.
Put the apples through a food mill to separate the skins and seeds from the soft pulp.
Tara and Valerie putting the apples through the food mill. Why the pregant woman is standing on a stool I do not know.
Jars, Lids and Hot Water Bath:

Fill the hot water bath with water 2/3 full and bring the water to a boil. Leave the wire jar rack in there to heat up.
After sterilizing the knives, jars, lids and rings, keep them hot in the dishwasher or in pans of simmering water.

Filling the Jars:
Using the wide mouth funnel, fill the jars while the applesauce is piping hot. Leave ½ inch “head room” at the top of the jar. Don’t fill it to the brim as it will burst in the hot water bath and perhaps even break the jar.
Add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice.
Run a clean, hot knife around the inside of the jar to clear away large bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar clean with one of the clean rags. Place lid on and screw on the ring tightly but not so tight that you can’t get it off.
For years I've burnt fingers trying to get the lids out of the scalding water! Not any more! Karlene brought this amazing tool.
Raise the rack in the hot water bath up and hook it on the rim of the pot. Place the hot jars on the rack (it fits 7) and using both hands, lower the rack into the hot or boiling water of the water bath.
The hot water bath both sterilizes the jar and its contents in a way that makes it safe to keep the food. The heat and the depth of the water cause air bubbles to escape during the boiling bath.
Bring the water back to a boil and boil hard for 10 minutes. Lift the rack and hook it again on the rim of the pot. Using the jar lifter, remove the jars, one at a time and place them on a folded towel. As they cool, a vacuum forms and the lid seals the vacuum shut. You will hear a pop as this happens. It is important to leave the jars undisturbed until they are cool – 12 to 24 hours. Check each lid to see if a vacuum has formed. If it has, the lid will be flat, no little dent up in the middle.
If a jar doesn’t seal, keep it in your refrigerator and use it first. Enjoy your applesauce all winter!

We made 35 jars of applesauce! Cindy and Laura, I saved one for you.
We were having so much fun, we decided to make apple butter, too.
Apple Butter
To make 5 pints:
Ingredients:
4 pounds apples
2 cups apple cider
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

Supplies:
canning jars, lids and rings sterilized
hot water bath
jar lifter
knife, sterilized
wide mouth funnel
towels, clean rags
crock pot or large oven casserole dish

Prepare the Apples:
Wash apples and quarter – no need to peel and pit
Cook them in a large pot in apple cider. Use enough to provide a liquid base so that the apples will not burn. Simmer this until the apples are tender.
Put the apples through a food mill to separate the skins and seeds from the soft pulp.
If you don’t have a food mill, simply peep and core the apples, cook them, then mash them with a potato masher.
Place the applesauce into a crock pot or oven proof dish.
Add the spices, sugar and stir well.
This has cooked for 8 hours and is not anywhere brown or smooth enough!
Cook without a lid for about 18- 24 hours. Stir often, scraping the sides of the dish. When ready the mixture will be dark brown and much reduced. It will sheet from the spoon . When the butter is dark enough but not quite smooth enough, cover again and cook on low.

The apple butter may also be baked in the oven. Mix all the ingredients in an oven proof dish. Place in a cold oven and set the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Let it bake until it thicknes, stirring now and then.
See how far this batch has cooked down? It's still not smooth enough. Won't be long, now.
Jars, Lids and Hot Water Bath:
For apple butter, smaller, half pint jars are better.

Filling the Jars:
Using the wide mouth funnel, fill the jars while the apple butter is piping hot. Leave ½ inch “head room” at the top of the jar. Proceed as with the applesauce and process for 10 minutes.
While I was busy talking, Andrea and Tara cleaned every dish, the counters and the floor.
Even if you don’t get the fruit for free, it is worth the taste and freshness to make and preserve your own applesauce and apple butter. This is an art that must be done Eight Hands Around style -- that is with a group of friends. Next week we are going to can tomatoes and after that – peach jam!

5 comments:

  1. If you don't have a food mill, can you do the same thing for applesauce that you suggested for apple butter?

    I'd like to try some this year.

    My grandma used to make apple butter when I was little with a huge cauldron in the back yard. She had the best apple butter around!

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  2. It was such a wonderful time! I really loved it and am looking forward to next week. I have been inspired.

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  3. Is the guild accepting any new members? :) This looks amazing!

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  4. The best thing to do if you don't have a food mill is to peel and core the apples before boiling them. Then, after they are soft, simply mush them with a potato masher.

    Yes, we are accepting new members. We'd love to have you Newlywedward. :)

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  5. Have you ever read the book "Bottled Sunshine?" The characters make blackberry jam and call it bottled sunshine. I think that is such a true description of those beautiful jars. Thanks so much for making it all happen.

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