Saturday, 15 August 2009

Making the most of a good harvest

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

The harvest season is reaching a high point at this point in the season. Hardy winter vegetables are putting on growth in the garden, and the first apples are coming in. Our first apple to ripen is the Yellow Transparent. I wrote about why I think this variety belongs in every frugal garden that is concerned with self-reliance here.

But, I also want to squeeze every bit of summer goodness out of these tart treats that I can. To do that, I only need to look back on methods that my mom taught me. Of course, we like to eat these juicy beauties out of hand, too. They aren't keeping apples, but they are great for fresh eating and cooking.

I prepared some for canning chunky applesauce.

Made a pie.

Apple pies are the easiest to make of all fruit pies. No thickener needed, I don't peel these either, just add seasoning to taste, dot with butter and bake.

In modern times we have become more wasteful, in the vein of convenience. Purchasing apples or fruit to make butters and sauces, not unlike making a modern day scrap quilt out of yardage, instead of the carefully saved snippets from sewing projects. Guilty of that one too!

So I literally called on memories of what my mom had taught me about waste not, want not. When she made her chunky applesauce, she would save the peels and cores and cook those down for apple butter. After cooking, she would run the cooked apple peelings and cores through the food mill, add spices and cook the apple butter down to a thick, mahogany treat.

I need extra canned goods for Christmas gifts and this would be a perfect way to add to my Christmas canning cabinet.

Normally, I would share these apple leavings with the hens and milk cow, but I saved some damaged apples for them and decided to see just what I could glean from about 12 pounds of apples.

While I was canning my applesauce, I put the pie in the oven, and cooked down the peelings. I had about a 5 quart saucepan of peelings and cores, I added two cups of water to prevent sticking, cooked these until soft and then ran them through the food mill.

This is all that is left of that small box of apples. The yield for apple butter was about 7 cups of sauce.

I always cook my apple butter and tomato sauce down in a crock pot, I never scorch it this way, and I can have the rest of my stove free for cooking. It is also a great way to heat up sauce in preparation for canning too. The sauce will get piping hot and be ready for your sterilized jars.

For apple butter, I added sugar and spices to taste. As it cooks over several days, it will thicken and get darker.

Cook to desired thickness and can for long term storage or gifts, or you could store this in the refrigerator for several weeks.

To can this apple butter, heat apple butter in crock pot and ladle into sterilized jars leaving 1/4 headspace, process 10 minutes in water bath canner.