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
Tags: , , , ,

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.

 

Plum Preserves – Near Tragedy! August 3, 2010

Filed under: Canning,Garden Fresh,Home Made — realfoodmama @ 3:39 pm
Tags: , ,

Plum PreservesYesterday we started processing the plums I mentioned in the previous post. We are making very simple plum preserves – not jelly or jam. The primary difference is the sugar content and the end consistency. Preserves are basically cooked fruit with a bit of sugar, whereas jam and jelly requires a thickening agent.

In order to make the preserves we simply halved and pitted the plums yesterday, then we layered them with sugar and let them sit for about 8 hours. We cooked them a bit last night and then refrigerated them overnight mostly because we didn’t have time to can last evening. This morning we took them out and put them back in the pot, added a bit more sugar as they were pretty sour, and then put them on a low heat in order to thicken and cook down a tad more as there were still some pretty big chunks of plum.

This is really a very long lead up to the near tragedy that occurred this morning shortly after I placed the plums on the heat to cook. We had just arrived home and of course, some chickens had escaped and one of them was hiding so we (mostly I) got completely sidetracked looking for the rogue chicken. Then my two year old started having a melt down and I basically neglected the plums.

I came back in and went to stir them only to discover that I had completely scorched the bottom of the pot! I was in near tears…okay, I was in actual tears…because I was convinced I had ruined the entire batch. So much time and effort and work…from picking them to washing, to cutting to cooking…etc.etc…and here I had ruined them in a vain effort to find a damn chicken.

Luckily for me my mother is slightly more level headed and we simply ladled the top of the jam off into a bowl and dumped the scorched part. We only really lost about a quart – which sounds like a lot, but we still have over a gallon which will make lots of preserves.

Suffice it to say, the pot of plum deliciousness is now sitting on the stove over a VERY low heat and is being stirred constantly. The picture is of the plums as we were ladling them off the scorched pot – the color was so beautiful I wanted to capture it.

Happy Eating!

 

Home Made Applesauce October 7, 2009

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

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!