Oh, the things you can make from a box of apples! (If they are free, it’s even more exciting.)
I got this box of apples from the farmers market. They are a crazy mix of apples and I don’t care. I like my apples mixed up. I rarely cook with one and only one specific type of apple. For one thing, I rarely cook with apples that aren’t free. For another, I think mixing it up adds flavor, texture, and color to a recipe.
It makes life easy–and interesting. One of my mottos in cooking is not to be too hung up on rules. (How much fun is that?)
I hope this is only the first of several boxes of apples I’ll have at my disposal this year, but you never know. I made the most of this one.
Several people have asked about my pantry. I heard a huge ruckus yesterday morning and popped out of bed, envisioning cats knocking all my pretty jars off the dining room table where they’ve been sitting due to lack of organization and space in my pantry. Luckily, that wasn’t what happened. (Spice, the Door-Opening-Cat, had opened the door in the middle of the night, letting all three dogs in, including THE GIANT PUPPY. They were doing laps with the cats around my kitchen, but they didn’t break anything. Whew.) However, after that scare, I decided it was time to get the pantry under control.
There’s more, this is just one wall. It’s nice to gaze upon it and know I did that.
Morgan came in and found me standing there. She said, “You like to look at that, don’t you?” I said, “Yes, it gives me a sense of satisfaction for all the work I’ve done. Like I enjoy looking at you. It gives me a sense of satisfaction for all the work I’ve put into you.” She said, “What work?”
And then I beat her to death.
I store rings the way Georgia does. Make a loop on one end of a piece of thin rope (I’m using clothesline here) and hang it on a nail. Tie one canning ring onto the other end. Then drop all your rings down the line and hang.
It’s an easy, space-saving way to keep canning rings. I have one line for wide-mouth rings and another for regular.
Most of the apples I’ve preserved from this box aren’t in jars yet. It was too much to get into jars right away. I prepared the apples for freezing, measured in the specific quantities for recipes I intend to can later, and labelled accordingly.
When cutting up a large quantity of apples at once, fill a pot with cold water and throw in several teaspoons (or tablespoons, depending on quantity) of produce protector. (I use Fruit Fresh, which is a Ball product found in the canning aisle of most large grocers.) As you cut up the apples, toss the pieces in the pot to prevent darkening while you continue to work.
To freeze apples, place slices in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Cool in ice.
Drain and pack in freezer baggies or containers.
I have a number of recipes planned for the apples from this box. So far, I’ve canned one round of apples with dried cherries and raisins. The recipe I used is based on one from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, though I modified it a bit. Here’s how I made mine. I used more cherries and raisins. Also, the Ball recipe called for 8-10 pounds of Granny Smith apples and I used about 12 pounds of mixed apples. For me, this made a total of 10 pints, which I made in two batches because it was too much for one pot, so this is per 6 pound batch.
How to make Rustic Apples with Dried Cherries and Raisins:
6 pounds mixed apples
2 cups sugar
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Wash and core apples; do not peel. (LOVE THAT IN A RECIPE.) Cut apples in thick slices. Combine apple slices with sugar in a large saucepot, stirring gently to coat apples. Let sit 20 minutes. Stir in dried cherries, raisins, lemon peel, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Pack hot fruit in jars. Ladle hot syrup over fruit, leaving a full inch headspace. (Be SURE to leave good headspace on this recipe–the dried fruit will swell during processing.) Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece lids. Process pints and quarts 20 minutes in a hot water bath.
Will that not make wonderful Christmas gifts? What a lovely treat to spoon over slices of homemade pound cake or ice cream, or as part of other recipes. (Canned in quarts, it would make the fruit base for a delicious pie!) I have apples measured out and frozen so I can make this again. I also have the apples prepared and frozen for apple chutney and apple-maple jam. I made gallon baggies of potpourri–do not throw your cores and peels away!
Put them in the dehydrator!
I’ll use them for dry potpourri mixes, simmering potpourri mixes, and just to sprinkle in gift baskets for decoration. Dried apple peels, slices, and cores are gorgeous! I love them.
Work, pleasure, the satisfaction of food stored for winter, and even free gifts for another homemade Christmas–all from a box of apples.
Rustic Apples with Dried Cherries and Raisin, with dried apple peels and cores.
(Of course I saved a few apples for Pocahontas.)
(And the chickens.)
Last night, after a week of intense but rewarding labor in the kitchen, I picked a handful of flowers from my garden and lit a homemade candle while Grandmother Bread was rising for our dinner.
And rested my feet.
Today, I’m on my way to pick up somebody special (or two). GUESS WHO!
Find the Rustic Apples with Dried Cherries and Raisins at Farm Bell Recipes here.