Food preservation is my new love. I vaguely remember my grandfather (mom's father) canning applesauce, peaches and other goodies, but that was many, many years ago... long before I was old enough to even use a stove. In the past year I've been hearing some foodie buzz about canning. Then Ball started having commercials about canning. I still thought it was too difficult. I mean, I've cut myself slicing onions and I've stepped on a food processor blade (both situations landed me in the emergency room). Large pots of boiling water and the danger of getting the recipe wrong and dying of food poisoning didn't sound like a good idea.
Then I realized that I love cooking from scratch. I love gardening. As cheesy as it sounds, I'm inspired to cook and bake when I drive through the farms on my way home from work in June, July and August. I'm even inspired by the tiny container garden on my modest deck. I decided to try canning.
My mom thought I was crazy. Canning was a chore in her day, so she couldn't understand why someone would want to spend an entire afternoon processing peaches, tomatoes, apples, pears and peppers when there were perfectly good alternatives in our grocery store. But I was determined... so I picked up this book at Costco. It ended up being the best $12 I spent in 2011.
I started with peaches purchased at a farm in New Jersey. I made peach jam, peach butter, and peach rum sauce. It would have been nice if I had remembered to blog about these recipes while peaches were still in season in the Northern Hemisphere, but life happens. I'll save those stories for 2012.
Then I had a canning date with my friend (and former classmate) Jennifer. We took it to a whole new level with fresh salsa, roasted red pepper spread and the recipe I'm sharing today: Apple Pie in a Jar. And guess what? You can find all of the ingredients to make this right now because apples are in season!
|Jennifer stirring the pot.|
The recipe comes from Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving, but it's inspired by my summer trip to Vermont. You know, the one that I still haven't blogged about? (I'm on a roll here.) We purchased something called Apple Pie in a Jar at a maple syrup farm and E couldn't stop talking about it. He ate this like jam - straight up or spread on hot toast. Since we paid nearly $10 for an 8 ounce jar I figured I'd attempt to make it on my own. I must say, the results were good!
You start with fresh Granny Smith apples...
Peel, core, dice and throw in a big pot with some lemon juice, lemon zest and apple juice...
While that simmers, chop up some golden raisins. Yes, raisins! I used a food processor because I like making tons of dishes for my husband to wash.
Then you stir in pectin. You can pick up this stuff at a specialty cooking store. Mine came from Kitchen & Company...
At this point things are smelling really good. The only thing stopping you from eating this straight off the spoon is that it would burn the roof of your mouth (possibly landing you in the emergency room....). So instead you ladle it into prepared jars, then you process it (that means submerge the jars in boiling water) for 10 minutes.
Remove the jars, let them cool and you've got Apple Pie in a Jar that is shelf-stable for one year!
Do you think you can do this? I know you can! I highly recommend you read this website to get the basics down and I also recommend you purchase this book before you start.
You can buy the supplies at a cooking specialty store or online. I bought everything at Kitchen & Company and I invested about $35 this year to get started, but from now on I'll only need to buy extra jars (as needed, they are reusable) and new lids (for when I do reuse the jars). Plus, home preserved food makes a fun gift for all of your friends and family who appreciate homemade food!
Here's what I think you need:
- A large pot for cooking your recipes
- A huge pot for processing your jars (we're talking 12 quarts or more, it doesn't have to be high quality)
- Jar funnel (check your cooking specialty store)
- Jar-shaped tongs (specialty store)
- magnetic lid lifter
- Plenty of clean kitchen towels
- Jars + lids (I went with half-pint jars, you can do whatever you think is best)
- Plastic ladle
- Large bowls for prepping ingredients
Apple Pie in a Jar
adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
3/4 cup golden raisins, finely chopped
6 cups peeled, cored, chopped Granny Smith apples
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 package (1.75 oz, or equivalent measure from larger container) regular powdered fruit pectin
8 cups sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (not breakfast syrup, real syrup)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Prepare canner, jars and lids. Check out the website and book mentioned earlier in this post.
In a large, deep pot (preferably stainless steel), combine apples, lemon zest and juice, and apple juice. Boil gently for 10 minutes, or until apples begin to soften.
Remove from heat and stir in raisins and pectin. Put back on heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Add sugar all at once and stir constantly. Bring mixture to a full, rolling boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. (It should boil so hard that you can't stir it down.)
Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Skim foam off the top.
Ladle jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Place lid on jar. Place screw band on jar and tighten until resistance is met (not too tight!).
Place jars back in canner (keep them upright!) and bring water to a boil. Process for 10 minutes once water starts boiling. Cut off the heat, wait 5 minutes, then use jar tongs to remove jars (keep them upright!). Place jars on a kitchen towel to cool.
Allow jars to cool, then store. If any jars have not sealed, place them in the refrigerator and consume within 30 days. Otherwise store jars for up to a year at room temperature.