The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
I’ve always wanted to make apple butter. Thinking about it I don’t know why I never did. But this challenge gave me a reason to actually think about food preservation, which I am quite bad at. By this, I mean a lot of food in our house goes to waste. My husband will pack up something and shove it in the back of the fridge where no one sees it until its green, or we’ll open a can of something and not necessarily need the entire can and that goes to waste as well. If I can figure out how to mason jar some of my own things, that will reduce waste of say, tomato sauce, or preserves which I could start creating myself as well.
- 1 bag of apples ( I used Gala, peeled, sliced, and seeds/stems removed)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
Wash apples well and remove stems. Cut apples into quarters or eighths and remove cores and peel.
Combine unpeeled apples and cider in 8-quart saucepan. Cook slowly and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until apples are very soft (falling apart). This took me about 15-20 minutes
Since I chopped, stemmed, seeded and peeled my apples I just then mashed them with my potato mashes until they were an apple sauce consistency, and then I went over it with a stick blender to puree it even better.
Combine pulp with Sugar and spices in an 8-quart saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently.
To test for doneness, spoon a small quantity onto a clean plate; when the butter mounds on the plate without liquid separating around the edge of the butter, it is ready for processing. Another way to test for doneness is to remove a spoonful of the cooked butter on a spoon and hold it away from steam for 2 minutes. It is done if the butter remains mounded on the spoon. After I determined it was done, I went over it with my stick blender again.
Pour contents into desired storage container or multiple containers. I filled five 8oz mason jars with this, one for the fridge, and 4 to be canned.
Then, comes the hot water canning!
Fill a nice big pot with water. The pot has to be big enough to at least have an inch of water over the tops of the jars. Place something at the bottom of the pot to reduce thermal shock. I used a neatly folded tea towel but that ended up biting me in the butt upon removal. But if you have something proper to remove the jars from the hot water with then you wouldn’t have the problem I did. Put the lids in to a bath of warm water, about 180 degrees to loosen up the seal. Then put on the jars, screw shut nice and tight. Then warm up the water in your pot until its 180 degrees. gently put the jars in the water and hit the heat! Wait for the water to boil, once it starts boiling set the clock for 15 minutes, when thats done let it rest completely off heat for five minutes. Its nice having a gas range for this like this. Then remove them. Do not tilk, or dust the water off the top of the lid or anything. Place them still completely upright on another tea towel on the table and let sit for 12 -24 hrs.
I’m told if you’ve done it right you’ll hear a pop from the lid soon after removal from heat. When I attempted to removed the jars from the water my grasping device accidently snagged a bit of the tea towel and all my jars fell over in the water. I thought, immediate failure. I continued anyways, put them on their resting spot, and I heard no popping. I also would point out now that I have two young children. The level of noise within this household at all times is insanity so I could have just missed it because the lids have no air underneath them, and they’ve gone concave like my instructions tell me they will. So we’ll see when I do the lift test tomorrow!