Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Crockpot Apple Butter August 20, 2010

Filed under: Canning,Food Storage,Home Made,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 11:37 am
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It may seem early in the season for apple recipes, but I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to pick a business associates early fruiting tree and I finally got around to doing something with all the apples I pulled. The apples were very small and the process of peeling and coring was fairly tedious, however we were able to do enough so that we could make about 4 pints of apple butter.

The process of making apple butter is very straightforward but it can be time consuming so I decided this year to use my crockpot in order to cook the apples down rather than the stove top which requires frequent stirring and constant vigilance in order to ensure it does not scorch. Given all of the other things I have been trying to do recently (cheese making, zucchini processing, alone time…) I decided that it would be best for everyone if I simply put the apple butter in the crockpot overnight and let it do its thing without my supervision.

I was very pleased with the results! The butter thickened nicely and while there was some scraping of the sides required in the end, all in all it was a preferable method to the stovetop. I tend to forget that things are on the stove and have had some near catastrophes (see my post about the plum preserves!). The best part about it though is that you can leave it to cook overnight. I like getting things done while I sleep!

Apple Butter
from the Ball Blue Book of canning and preserving

4 pints cooked apples
4 cups sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves

The basics process for making the butter is as follows:

Core and peel your apples
Cook them with a small quantity of water until they are soft and can be easily mushed with a potato masher (basically turn them into applesauce)
Use either an immersion blender or a standard blender to blend them and create a smooth consistency
Add sugar and spices
Cook over low heat until thick, stirring frequently

Leaving 1/4 inch headspace, process in water bath for 10 minutes at sea level

I typically use less sugar in these recipes than called for simply because I don’t like overly sweet fruit products. The Ball Blue Book recipe calls for 4 cups of sugar to 8 cups of apples. No thank you! I use about 1 to 1.5 cups of sugar. I also add a tad more cloves to my recipe (1/2 tsp instead of 1/4 tsp) and lower the cinnamon from 2 tsp to 1 tsp.

The canning instructions are to can for 10 minutes (at sea level) with 1/4 inch head space. Due to the altitude in the City Dipherent, I add an additional 15 minutes to the processing time.

 

Early apples and Plums August 1, 2010

Filed under: Garden Fresh,Home Economics,Home Made — realfoodmama @ 8:33 pm
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This weekend we spent a bit of time each day picking fruit off trees that would otherwise have simply fallen to the ground. We were able to get apples from the tree of a business associate and plums from the tree of a complete stranger who we were referred to by a mutual friend. As a result she is no longer a complete stranger!

Suffice it to say the fruit picking adventures of this weekend mark the beginning of canning season. That coupled with this evenings bumper crop of green beans from the garden and we are already starting to put food up for the winter. The green beans were blanched and are now freezing in the chest freezer out in our workshop.

Tomorrow I am hoping to make plum preserves and, assuming my kitchen isn’t a disaster by the end of that project, start some apple butter. I am also falling behind on my zucchini and basil processing – I need to make pesto and bake some zucchini bread. Both can be frozen if packaged properly and are a great use of our crazy garden bounty.

The monsoon rains here in Santa Fe have been dramatic this season, to say the least. We haven’t had to actually water the garden in about a week as the nightly down pour has kept everything incredibly wet – in some cases too wet especially in the goat pen. Mucking this afternoon proved…unpleasant. But that is another topic! The gardens are happy and I should really post some images of our tomato forest. The tomato plants have gotten so huge and are so bushy that I admit to being somewhat afraid of them. I can’t see the basil plants anymore, the poor things are buried under the tomato foliage!

In either case I am excited that today, the first day of a new month, we are getting a jump on our food processing. I am looking forward to more apples later in the season, some pears, and of course the rest of the bounty from our home garden! In the meantime, I should probably go make some bread…

Happy Eating!

 

Applesauce buckwheat pancakes January 27, 2010

Filed under: Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 11:06 am
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Good Morning!One of my old standby’s for breakfast is pancakes. They are remarkably simple and incredibly versatile. You can use a multitude of different flours, a variety of dairy products, and you can add almost anything to the batter. In fact, I regularly disguise fruits and vegetables as pancakes in order to get my two year old to eat them – my favorite is pumpkin season…mmmm, so good! But that is another post.

In fact, pancake batter is one of the few grain recipes where I regularly remember to soak my flour before using it. The reason is simple: You can make pancake batter the night before and refrigerate it until the morning. Not only does this make the whole process much quicker in the mornings (helpful when you have a very hungry toddler demanding pancakes) but it also allows the batter to sit in buttermilk (or yogurt, or kefir) for 12 hours before cooking.

This time of year, with the pumpkin mostly gone, I tend to start using my applesauce as the fruit. Homemade, with very little sugar, it adds just enough sweetness to the batter.

My basic recipe comes from The Joy, but it has been so long I have multiple modifications. For the apple sauce buckwheat version, the recipe is below. As for others, as long as you stick to the basic wet/dry ratio (i.e. 1.5 c flour to 1.5 c dairy), you can experiment as much as you like! I tend to use at least 2/3 c of unbleached all purpose flour however, as otherwise the pancakes can get dry. Experiment though, and see what you like! Adding honey to a pure whole wheat batter, for example, would compensate. Generally, however, I never add more than 1/3 c of pureed fruit or veggies, otherwise the texture is off.

Applesauce Buckwheat Pancakes

1 c organic unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 c buckwheat flour
1 1/2 TBSP aluminum free baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c raw goats milk + 1/2 c goat kefir*
3 TBSP organic grass fed butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1/3 cup unsweetened (or lightly sweetened) applesauce – recipe here

*I have dairy goats and make my own kefir. I have found that I like the combination above. You can always use all buttermilk or kefir or yogurt, however if you do this you will need to adjust your leavening to 1 tsp powder and 1/2 tsp soda to compensate for the higher acidity. You, of course, can also use all milk, but then any benefit you would get from soaking the flour would be lost.

Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the dairy. Stir until fairly well mixed, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours. This will lead to a rather sticky mess, to be honest, but trust me! It will work. Do not forget to cover, however, otherwise a nasty skin will develop.

The following morning, go ahead and combine the eggs, applesauce, melted butter and vanilla, if using, then add to the soaked flour mixture. Stir until just mixed – any over mixing at this point will lead to very heavy pancakes.

Heat a griddle to medium low and grease it. I used to use canola oil for this, but have since experimented with other things. Butter does not work well! You need some other oil, such as sunflower or safflower, or if you want the flavor of it, coconut oil. I do not like olive oil, even though it has a nice high smoke point, simply because the flavor is too obvious for me. Experiment until you find one that works for you.

What you want to do is put about a TBSP of oil in the pan and use a paper towel as a grease mop. Lightly brush the oil around the pan, being careful not to burn yourself, and set the now greasy paper towel aside for the next one. Ladle in about 1/3 – 1/2 c of batter and cook until the edges start to get glossy and the center bubbles, then flip. Re-grease your pan with the paper towel before starting another pancake.

Load them up with more grass fed butter and some organic grade B maple syrup and enjoy!

This post has been my contribution to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.

 

Home Made Applesauce October 7, 2009

Filed under: Eating local,Garden Fresh,Home Economics,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 9:34 am
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Spiced Applesauce

Spiced Applesauce

Last week a friend of mine was kind enough to invite me to her aunt’s house in rural NM to pick apples. We arrived expecting to come home with a bag each, but then we looked at the trees. I think I ended up walking away with over 50 pounds of apples! I split them 50/50 between Jonathon and Winesap, as I wanted to make some applesauce as well as some pie filling.

We have been slow to get started on this project, as peeling, coring, cooking and canning 50 lbs of apples when you have a 2 year old boy in the house has proven difficult. We have completed one batch however and it was absolutely divine so I thought I would share the recipe with everyone, as well as the process for those of you who may be first time canners.

Spiced Applesauce

5 lbs of Jonathan apples (or a similar variety)
1 c water
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 – 1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash cloves

Peel and core the apples and place them in a large stock pot with the cup of water. Cook over very low heat for an hour to an hour and a half or until the apples are soft and can be crushed easily with a potato masher or a fork. Stir frequently!

When the apples have reached the desired consistency, add the sugar and spices and let it cook for another 10 minutes or so. Any longer and the flavors will get muddy. When the applesauce is finished, it is time to can it. At this point you have two choices: hot or cold?

The key to canning is to start with everything at the same temperature (ie, if you want to can the hot applesauce, you need hot canning jars and hot water). You can either heat the jars prior to canning or you can let the applesauce cool to room temperature, which could take half a day. I prefer to let the applesauce cool simply because it allows me to can in shifts.

Applesauce requires a simple water bath canning. Leaving 1/2 inch of headspace, fill your jars, removing any large air bubbles. After filling, tighten the lids and place in a water bath canner. Cover the jars with anywhere from 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of water in order to guarantee they remain covered during the canning process. Standard recipes call for 20 minutes in the water bath, however at 7000 feet I typically add an additional 10 – 15 minutes. The temperature for boiling water is marginally lower at this altitude, so you need to let the cans go longer. Standard adjustments are about 5 minutes for every 2000 feet above sea level. Remember – start timing when the water BOILS, not simply from when you place the jars in the canner.

Let the jars cool completely before removing them from the canner. I like to let them sit overnight. You can remove them while hot if you need the canner again, but you have to be very careful – a) they’re hot! and b) the temperature change from boiling to room temperature has been known to cause glass to crack – a risk frankly I don’t feel the need to take.

The next applesauce attempt is going to involve ginger and if it turns out I will post that recipe as well. Until then, Happy Eating!

 

Nothing says fall like apple pie! September 14, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Garden Fresh,Real Food Wednesday,Recipe — realfoodmama @ 10:27 pm
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Constructing the Pie

Constructing the Pie

We planted a few apple trees this year and while we pinched back most of the buds, I decided to save enough on our Granny Smith tree to make one pie. The apples have just started falling this week and so I decided to take advantage both of their ripeness and the cooler weather to make an apple pie with them – hopefully the first of many as we will soon be going to a local orchard to do some picking.

However this pie was particularly special because it used our apples, our very own apples, and the results were absolutely fantastic. Because my boyfriend doesn’t like cinnamon, I tend to use different spices to add flavor to my apple pies, resulting in a more cider like taste. Although, it should be noted, I haven’t gotten rid of the cinnamon entirely. That would just be wrong!

Fresh From the Tree Apple Pie

10-12 medium tart apples, peeled and cored. (Approx 3 – 3 1/2 cups)
1 cup evaporated cane juice*
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

*The sugar content can be adjusted to your taste and to the tartness of your apples. Always taste your apples before applying sugar!

Cut the apples into fairly thick slices – I like them to be about 1/4 – 1/2 inch. Mix the apples with the spices and sugar and pour into your pie crust.

Below are the crust recipe and baking instructions.

Amazing Pie Crust

1 3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c lard, chilled (learn how to render at home here)
3 TBSP butter, chilled and cut into cubes
5-6 TBSP ice water.
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP sugar

Finished Apple Pie

Finished Apple Pie

Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk several times to mix. Add the lard and the cubed butter. Using a pastry cutter, mix the lard and butter into the flour until the mixture resembles crumbs – the pastry may start to come together a bit at this point. Add the ice water one teaspoon at a time until you can pick up the pastry and it will hold its shape when squeezed. Split the pastry in half and shape into disks. Store each pastry disk in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Prior to rolling the dough out, let it warm up for about 10 minutes or so otherwise you will have a hard time. Also be sure to use a lot of flour while rolling it out!

After the pie is constructed, brush a thin layer of heavy cream over the crust with a pastry brush. Sprinkle some raw sugar on the top for texture. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about an hour or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.

Serve drizzled with more heavy cream to bring everything together.

Happy Eating!

This post was my weekly contribution to Real Food Wednesday’s hosted this week by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.