Wednesday, 12 November 2014

And Another Apple Recipe!

So now that I have 2 canning apple recipes down (plus I also dried a bunch of apples), I went ahead and did another one. Taking inspiration from my various canning cookbooks, a few of the recipes included the use of alcohol; in the case of apples, they recommended brandy. I'm not really in love with brandy, it's not something I drink. I thought about it a bit then went, "Aha! I know exactly what would go with apples!". Goldschläger.

Not only would the cinnamon alcohol go wonderfully with apples, it has little flakes of gold in it so it would look super pretty too!

This is the recipe I came up with:

Apple Slices in Light Syrup and Goldschläger

5 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and sliced
5 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of Goldschläger

Prepare canner, jars and lids.

In a large stainless steel pan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring to dissolve sugar, about 5 minutes or so. Add your apples and return to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently with occasional stirring, until apples are slightly tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Using a slotted spoon, remove apples from syrup and fill your prepared hot jars to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Meanwhile, return syrup to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and stir in the Goldschläger. Ladle the hot syrup into the jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary. Wipe rims, center lids on jars and screw down the band until fingertip tight.

Place jars in the canner making sure they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove lid from canner, turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars and place in a draft free area to cool slowly. When cool, store.

This makes between 5 to 6 500 mL (pint) jars. I used the apples that I had on hand, which was a combo of Fuji, Gala and Honeycrisp, but you can use whichever apples you see fit to use. If you're unsure about what kinds of apples are best for what, I found this neat site:

I have to say I LOVE my apple peeler/corer/slicer thingy, it makes life so much easier! (when you're dealing with an insane amount of apples) The other comment I should make is to give the bottle of Goldschläger a good shake before pouring it in to the syrup so that you get a good distribution of the flakes.

Here's a closeup of one of my jars so you can see the gold flake:

How pretty is that? 

You can use these to fill tart shells, to eat with ice cream, as pie filling; I personally know these are awesome to put in pie irons when you go camping!

My next project is dealing with all the carrots I just dug up from the garden, and to take a stab at fermenting food. Have a super day!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Art in the City

This Saturday is the annual Frederick Street Art Walk. I usually have to work on the Saturday it is held, but the universe has conspired that I have this one off, and a friend of mine wants to go.

It is an amazing community experience. The surrounding neighbourhood of Frederick Street (and the side streets off it) open some of their houses to the public to showcase local artists and their wares for sale. Everything from pottery, wood turning, jewellery, felt work, chocolates, etc. can be seen and bought. Plus, it is a nice stroll through a nice neighbourhood with some classic old houses (you know, the ones with the gorgeous 12 inch oak baseboards, the wood pocket doors and the beautiful staircases and the creaky original floors).

You can see more about it here:

Frederick Art Walk

I highly suggest you check it out! It is good for not-your-average Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) presents. Maybe I'll see you there!

Monday, 3 November 2014

Another apple recipe

Seeing as I have a ton of apples, the second recipe I decided to attempt (no, I haven't been doing this for years upon years, it's trial and error for me too) was apple butter. My canning recipe books have this, but they all add sugar (I guess that's what gives it that dark brown colour). I figure the apples are sweet enough as it is, and a misunderstanding on what a friend had said about a recipe she wanted to try gave me the inspiration to do something a little different.

A lot of the online recipes have you do things in the slow cooker, and in hindsight, that would probably be a great idea but I wanted to do it now and didn't want to wait. So I peeled, cored and chopped up my apples, threw them in a pot with some unsweetened apple cider and (wait for it) instead of adding sugar, added some chopped, pitted dates to the mixture. I mean, how awesome would that taste? It would be like an apple date square mixture that you could eat with a spoon!

According to one recipe, I dutifully brought this to a boil, turned the heat down and simmered,  whilst stirring occasionally, for about half an hour. I then took it off the heat and mushed it up with my immersion blender. (Of course, you could put the whole lot into a blender and do it that way, but I'm all for simplicity and the least amount of dishes).

The rest of the recipe was kind of vague about turning that into apple butter, it just said to cook until it reached the right consistency. While I had it back on a low heat, I looked up what that meant. (Hindsight, should have looked that up before) One to two hours, while stirring occasionally. Huh.

Thankfully I had already done the laundry and the hubby was out, so I put on an audio novel, grabbed a chair, added the rest of the ingredients and proceeded to stir every few minutes for about 2 hours, till it looked like this:

The house smelled pretty damn wonderful too, but my hand was cramping with so much stirring. Oh well, now I know for next time. The recipe I came up with:

Spiced Apple Date Butter

6 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups unsweetened apple cider
2 cups chopped, pitted dates
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Prepare jars, canner and lids.

 In a large stainless steel pot, combine apples, apple cider and dates. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until mixture is soft, about 30 minutes.

Using your immersion blender (or if you like making a bigger mess, use your blender), puree mixture until a uniform texture is achieved. Try not to liquefy it. Add the remaining ingredients to the mixture and bring back to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to low and stir frequently for about 1 to 2 hours (I did 2) until the mixture is nice and thick.

Ladle your hot butter into hot jars, leave about 1/4 inch headspace, removing air bubbles and adjusting as necessary. Wipe rim and center the lid on top, screw the band down until fingertip tight. Place jars in canner, bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes, making sure jars are covered with water. After 10 minutes turn off heat, take the lid off of the canner off and let sit another 5 minutes. Remove jars and let cool slowly at room temperature before storing.

Yields anywhere from  5 to 8 250 mL (8 ounce) jars, depending on how thick you got it. I got 5 jars from mine.

I have to say, it tastes pretty darn fabulous if I do say so myself. I look forward to having it on thick bakery fresh bread toasted up on a cold winter day. You could probably also use it in date squares if you really wanted to, or just eat it by the spoon slowly savouring every yummy bit.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Apple Season!

I love fresh apples, the smell of them, the taste of them, the look of them! We probably got about 10 off our tree this year (planted 2 years ago), the squirrels got a few as well. Ah well, wildlife needs to eat too! So, enough to eat but not enough to can.

Made a trip out last weekend to Martins Apple Farm and in my excitement, bought 3 half bushels of #2 Fuji, Gala and Honeycrisp apples.

I intended to make applesauce and have some for eating as well. Guess I kind of overestimated a wee bit of how many apples I needed! So now aside from applesauce, I have other recipes I need to do.

I also went out and bought this thingamabob:

I thought it would just peel the apples, but to my delight I discovered it also cores and slices the apple too! If you intend to cook a lot of apples I highly recommend this, totally worth the $20.

I like unsweetened, slightly chunky applesauce. Doing some research, I found that a few places recommend using more than one kind of apple to get the best flavour. I was going to use 3 kinds of apple, but the 3rd kind I wanted wasn't quite ready in season yet; so I used 2 kinds: Fuji and Gala. I tinkered with a few different recipes and came up with this.

Unsweetened Applesauce

12 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and chopped up
2 cups unsweetened apple cider
4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

Prepare your canner, jars and lids.

In a big stainless steel pot, combine apples with apple cider. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend apples until your desired consistency is reached. Return applesauce to a boil, add lemon juice and spices, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary by adding more sauce. Wipe rims, center lid on jar and screw down until fingertip tight. Place your jars in your canner, making sure they are covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and remove canner lid, let sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars and allow to cool slowly at room temperature.

Makes about 8 500 mL (pint) jars or 4 1 L (quart) jars.

(I got 7 500 mL jars, one 1 L jar and a bit extra for eating right away).

The result? Super yummy applesauce!

I could eat this all by itself, but it's also yum on pancakes or waffles, or as a side dish with whatever meal you're having. Plus your whole house smells deliciously like warm apples and cinnamon (and no fake smell candle can replicate that).

I did this the other day; now I have at least 2 other apple canning recipes I need to do. Will keep you posted!