Um. Would you mind helping out a confused blogger? Okay, I need you to assess the situation and confirm a few things for me:
a) What year is it? and
b) Where am I?
Because up until Sunday I was fairly certain about both my whereabouts and the approximate date, but since then things have become slightly blurry. Don't tell anyone, but I think that I might have somehow landed up in colonial America. Oh you need evidence?
Well, first and foremost, there's this canning business. Yes sirree (see I'm even talking like them!), I made my own apple butter from scratch on Sunday and canned it's ass. Can you taste the homespun all-American goodness? Of course I presume those down-to-earth colonial folk didn't have it spread thickly on store bought croissants. Or blog about it.
And they certainly weren't au fait with the Daring Kitchen. Well, I suppose there might've been some version of it. Maybe an informal one uppance on Mary-Sue from the next door farm back in the day? Sans all this new-fangled blogging shenanigans of course.
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.
Food preservation definitely didn't form part of my food framework. Not in the least. Sure I'd frozen a couple of things before, but this canning business? Whoo boy. But I couldn't chicken out (that pesky pride thing), so after having read the technique (which seemed pretty straightforward) I started making apple butter for canning.
I was super excited about the actual product - apple butter being something I'd always read about, but never tasted and it sounded fantastic. Best part? The real thing lives up to it's reputation. As for the canning bit, well it was a good learning experience. Which was good. However wondering about whether I had sealed the jars properly was decidedly less awesome. Potentially disastrous in fact.
*Sigh* Maybe next time. Of course, the sealing issue is a bit of moot point actually, since we've polished almost half of the apple butter already. I somehow don't think spoiling is going to be an issue here...
Adapted from National Center for Home Food Preservation
Makes 2 small jars
Apple butter can be used as a spread on warm toast, croissants or whatever tickles your fancy. It would also be delicious in a sauce to serve with pork chops.
6 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and cored
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pinch of ground cloves
1. Cut apple into bite-sized pieces and add to a small saucepan. Pour water in, then cook over medium heat, covered until soft. This should take about 10 - 15 minutes.
2. Drain any remaining liquid and press apples through a sieve to form a smooth puree. Alternatively use a potato masher or food blender. Transfer apple puree back to saucepan and add sugar and spices. Stir to combine, then cook another 20 - 25 minutes over medium heat, uncovered, or until thickened. The finished apple butter should have a much firmer texture than the apple puree.
3. Spoon apple butter into glass jars for canning (alternatively use recycled jam jars). The apple butter should come up to just below the rim of the jar, leave about half a centimetre (quarter inch) of space at the top. Using a blunt knife, press the blade vertically into the side of the jar, moving up and down and around the entire perimeter of the jar to remove any air bubbles. Screw lids on.
4. Find a pot large enough to fit the jars of apple butter into - if you place the jars in the pot there should be about 5 cm (2 inch) space above the lids. Fold a kitchen towel in half or quarters (depending on the size of your pot) and lay in the base of your pot. Place jars on top of the towel.
5. Pour over enough boiling water to cover the jars - you will need to have at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) of water covering the lids. Place over high heat to bring to boiling point again, then lower heat and allow to simmer for between 15 and 25 minutes depending on your altitude* above sea level.
6. Remove pot from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before removing jars - be careful as they will still be very hot at this stage. Place onto a dry tea towel (this reduces the risk of thermal shock) and allow to cool down completely. You should hear a plop from the lids which indicates it has sealed properly.
If you are unsure of whether the jars have sealed properly, I would recommend refrigerating (for short term use) or freezing if you intend to keep it for a while, just to be on the safe side.
*15 minutes for altitude of 0 ft (0 m) to 1,000 ft (300 m)
20 minutes for altitude of 1,001 ft (301 m) to 6,000 ft (1,830 m)
25 minutes altitudes above 6,000 ft (1,831 m)
The apple butter can be stored in a cool dark place for up to a year. Always check for mold or other signs of spoiling before you eat it though, and if in doubt, discard the whole jar.