Is worth two if she made you look! (Sorry, I really couldn't help myself.)
I wasn't sure what exactly to call this post since it's not baking and yet isn't totally in the braised category either. You see, my best girlfriend and I decided to make -and can- apple butter. I know, right. Now, for most people, this might be a fairly innocuous event. Sadly, or should I say hilariously, we are not most people. While I'll concede this was not, by far, one of our funniest adventures (i.e...we didn't laugh til we peed, and no one stopped breathing) you can always bet there will be humor.
After having to return to her house to get her forgotten jars, BF and happy puppy arrived at my house. We got happy puppy settled in with grumpy dog, who frankly, wasn't happy to see happy puppy at all. I believe he used the term "whippersnapper" and reminded us of his age and his bad leg. He's an 8 year old rat terrier and his leg was broken about 4 years ago. It healed a bit gimpy mainly because he wouldn't quit trying to use it whilst it was broken and then didn't want to use it after it was healed. He uses it when, and how, it suits his purpose. Like jumping fences. But will hold it up feebly and give you sad eyes that say "how could you, I have a bad weg." Yes, he says weg to elicit extra sad brownie points. It's pathetic really.
Anyway, we started by coring and cutting up the apples, which were very juicy, according to my glasses. We used Macintosh apples, my favorite for baking. You don't peel and throw away the apple skin as it contains a lot of the flavor and pectin. Next time we might peel the apples first and put the skins into a jelly bag or some cheese cloth, that way we can just take the bag of skins out and toss it to make the mashing of the apples a bit faster and easier.
We added water to the pot of apples and put it on the stove to cook. It is now lunchtime. BF volunteers to go get chinese food and I stay behind with HP and GD. Happy puppy pees on the floor while barking at grumpy dog. So, I clean up the puddle, stir the apples and take HP and GD outside. We bark, poo, and chase chickens. BF arrives with home with the food and comments on the fact that we are shoveling food in at an alarming rate. The apples cook on.
Finally we arrive at the food milling portion of our program. After one turn each we decide this is for the damn birds. All our secret fantasies of going back into whatever time to meet whatever hero, is the result of some type of brain injury. We like plumbing, and grocery stores and personal feminine hygiene products that don't involve sheep.
Soon however, after much guffawing, we settled into a groove and decided, perhaps, we were being a bit hasty and it wasn't so bad after all. The trick is not to put too much into the food mill at one time. After we got all the apples milled, (and another HP/GD potty break) we measured our mash to make sure we got the right amounts of cider vinegar, sugar and cinnamon added. Then, back on the stove it went. We were feeling pretty good at this point and leafing through my Ball brand canning book, and decided we needed to make more stuff to can - Except meat and pickled fruit. And maybe chutney. Such eager little beavers are we.
I had to dart down to the school to take dear daughter the camera, and when I returned BF informed me grumpy dog had had enough. He put a smack down on happy puppy. She was much more calm. She also decided to stop barking at GD's butt, it apparently wasn't worth it. Still, the apples cooked on.
The apples were beginning to get darker and thicken up, but it still had a more apple sauce type texture. My sons came home from school, we had another potty break, more apple stirring, and dreams of canning greatness. At this point HP is calm and somewhat sleepy. GD decides she might not be too bad after all and does the 'smell my butt I'll be your friend' dance. HP gives him the 'you're a loony' look. After about 2 hours of boiling, we decided we were ready to can.
Canning really isn't that hard. Just don't burn your arm with apple butter - or boiling water. Make sure your jars are hot, the lids are hot, and you clean the rims before you put the lids on and you are good to go! Carefully put the filled jars into the boiling water and boil for the recommended amount of time. For this, it was 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let them sit. Some will seal right away and some may take a while. Voila!
At first, the tasting consensus said it was cinnamon applesauce because of the texture. The longer you let it cook, the smoother and darker it gets. It's really quite good, and I have to say I'm glad we made it. We used a recipe BF got from her aunt's old canning book. I've looked online and you can find quite a few recipes for apple butter. A lot of people seem to like to make it in the crock pot. You can adjust the seasonings as you like, too. We added more cinnamon than the recipe called for, you could add clove or nutmeg also.
Overall we had a nice canning experience - meaning nothing caught fire, required emergency medical care or like pants, let's say, needed changed. Happy puppy went home happy and BF went home with 14 half-pint jars of apple butter and a dozen fresh eggs. Life is sweet.
Interested in canning? Check out these titles...
Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff and Rinne Allen
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine