Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Think I 'CAN'!

Coming home from Apple Hill with 20 pounds of Apples, I thought canning Apple Butter for Christmas gifts would be a great way to use them up. But I had never canned in my life. So I eagerly began researching the methods, found a simple Apple Butter recipe, and "turned up the volume" (in the words of my culinary idol, Ina Garten). The result is my own yummy concoction...
Organic Vanilla Caramel Apple Butter.

The process from start to finish took about 4 1/2 hours. Keep in mind, however, half of the apples were peeled with Camden on my hip; we had to take breaks for lunch making & book reading; and let's not forget her obsession with standing- literally- ON my feet while I'm doing anything in the kitchen. All in all I found it very enjoyable and relatively easy...if you have the patience. Allow me to walk you through the process:

Become familiar with sterilization techniques here.

Gather materials and ingredients (all Organic):

*10-12 half-pint jars and lids
*stainless steel tongs and jar funnel
*large pot fitted with wire rack for sterilizing

*8 lbs. apples (The number of apples varies, depending on size; I used 30.) (The more variation in apple types used, the more depth of flavor you'll achieve. I used Winesnaps, Romes, Granny Smiths, and Jonagolds.)
*1/2 cup apple juice, divided
*Juice of two lemons
*3 1/4 cups brown sugar
*1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
*3/4 teaspoons course sea salt
*2 vanilla beans, scraped
ONE
Peel, core, & chop apples, and combine with 6 tablespoons apple juice and the lemon juice in a large dutch oven. Simmer over medium low heat for 45 minutes, until apples are very soft.

TWO
Pass apples through fine blade of a food mill, into a seperate bowl or pot. Stir in cinnamon and salt.

THREE
In original dutch oven, caramelize brown sugar and remaining apple juice over medium heat about five minutes.

FOUR

Stir apple mixture into the caramel, and add vanilla seeds and pods. Simmer, uncovered, over medium low for an hour. In the mean time, sterilize jars & lids.

FIVE
Funnel apple butter into hot jars (discard vanilla pods), seal, and process (strictly following Martha's instructions!)

And that's it! Tomorrow I have to make sure they sealed properly, and I have instant Christmas gifts. Perhaps paired with homemade Coffee Cake Muffins in a basket finished with a gingham ribbon?! (I guess it's not much of a surprise now.) Canning proved to be fun and simple, and I'll definitely do it again. Don't be shy...

If I CAN do it, you CAN!

4 comments:

Uncle Ryan said...

Looks yummy

Carree said...

Heather,
All those years of "can I watch the cooking channel?" have paid off. Heaven knows you did not get it from me...I was always busy making sure you, Holly, Hannah and Harrison had matching outfits from the Gap, cute bedrooms, and themed birthdays....no time to cook.
xo, Mom (aka Mimi)
p.s. I am very proud of you!!!

the monkey's mama said...

i love the comment from your mom. Sweetest comment ever. I think this is one "must-make" recipe this Fall! Bookmarking it now!

Julie @ Joy's Hope said...

give me your dutch oven.
thank you.