Guys . . . it’s October.
I have taken a second to marvel at this every morning for the last few days and I just get overwhelmed with excitement when I do because October is, hands down, my favorite month of the year (yes, I am one of those people who would gladly use Halloween decorations as household decor year round- no, I feel no shame or weirdness about this and I do think “sparkly pumpkin” could be a personal style of decorating).
I just love fall, don’t you?
The turning of leaves, milder weather (although here in Arkansas tomorrow’s high temp is 82- not really “fall-like”) and the seasonal food.
Sure, pumpkin everything is great- I just finished a box of Pumpkin Spice Life cereal and don’t care how “basic” that makes me, but my biggest fall food obsession has always been apple butter.
On toast, biscuits or a really big spoon, I think apple butter is one of the most delicious and underrated things on the planet.
It’s sweet, a little tart and a lot spicy- it is also, as I found out this weekend, extremely easy to make yourself.
Anybody who follows me on Pinterest (and there are a lot of you, despite how notoriously quiet and bashful the crowd around here is) knows that I have an entire board, currently under construction, that has loads of pins devoted to canning, jarring and homesteading.
Call it antiquated or fussy, I just think there is something to be said for at least a little self-sufficiency and in-home preparedness, even in modern times when everything is at our fingertips.
It might not always be and during times where severe weather is a harsh reality (like right this moment in Florida) it’s good to have some prepared foods on hand in your cabinets and freezer for a rainy (or snowy) day.
That being said, I wanted a super simple recipe for apple butter that had 3 elements;
- I didn’t want it to call for 12lbs of apples- this is a first run and the worst thing I could think of was making oodles of apple butter and then having a shortage of available canning jars.
- Simple and sparse, but good, ingredients- the best things in food are mostly recipes without a great deal of fancy ingredients. Where the good food quality really lies is in cooking techniques, which is something I learned from my husband who is a chef; make sure things are cooked properly and cooled down then stored appropriately and you’re always eating well.
- I wanted to be able to cook it in the crock pot.
So with those elements in mind, the hubs helped me find one from the food network that we adapted and threw in the crock pot over night on low.
In the morning when I woke up?
Oh the glorious apple cinnamon-y smell that filled the house, wall to wall.
I almost didn’t want to do anything aside from let it keep cooking down and make a new batch when it needed to be thrown out, but you know.
Now you can take the cooked down apples and liquid out with a ladle and run it through your blender or food processor, or leave it right where it is and use an immersion blender, which was what I did.
Either way, I was left with a batch of apple butter that was sweet, tart and spicy and a gorgeous red brown color.
Next was the part I was most concerned about since this is my first time canning anything- the actual canning portion of the program which ended up falling on my husband’s mighty shoulders (thank you, honey!) but I paid close attention so I could lose a little bit of my fear.
I will get into the specifics of safe canning in another post, but know this- there are tons of sites where you can get that information in the meantime, like this absolutely awesome one foodiewithfamily that has a great canning project I’m going to test next week for you.
My biggest concern was how I would know when he pulled the jars out of the water after boiling for 15 minutes if they had sealed- if this is a concern you and I share, please allow me to set your mind at ease.
You can tell.
As my hubs began setting the jars on a wire rack, one by one, they began to emit a single, unmistakable pop.
“That’s how you know,” he told me, “but also if you’re not sure press the lid. You will know if it’s not sealed properly.”
They are still sitting on the counter and will be, per the Chef’s request, until he gets home today at which point I will label the jars themselves with painter’s tape (no residual goo when you remove and want to reuse the jar) with what’s inside and the date.
So that’s it!
With the next project I will include photos of the process!
In the meantime, what’s your favorite canning project and do you have any tips for a novice?
Let me know here or in the comments on the ChickandChickadee Facebook page!
Until next time!
The Chick and her Chickadee