Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Apple Jelly and Butter

Yesterday was an intense day in the canning process. I did both batches of apple jelly and apple butter as well as drying more apples in the dehydrator. Apple jelly and apple butter do go hand in hand as the jelly uses only the juice from the fruit, so the butter uses up the spend flesh from the juicing process. The only waste is the skins that are stripped away when making the apple butter. I did a batch and a half of the apple jelly as it has always been one of our favorite things to spread on fresh rolls with dinner.

I rough chopped up the apples after washing them. It was kind of nice not having to peel and core everything. I did, however, remove all the seeds from the apples before putting them in the pot with the water to cook out their juices. An episode of G.I. Joe once had them destroy a blob like monster by running it into an apple orchard. They reasoned that the poison in apple seeds would kill this monster, and it did. Hence, my paranoia of apple seeds was born, and my fear of cooking the apples with seeds present continues to this day. The apples cooked at a low simmer for 30 minutes, filling the house with a wonderful perfume smell. It is one of the aspects of the Gravenstein apple that I really do love. From there, the pulp and juice was carefully and slowly poured into the jelly bag to drain.

Now last year I did my jelly using a pair of nylons as my jelly bag, and this is a wonderful and cheap way to do jelly. I just recommend using a new and nicely cleaned pair when you do this. My kitchen, however does not have any place good to hang a nylon from, so I splurged and bought a Fox Run jelly bag set. I found this to be a nice set so long as one does not over fill the bag. It is held onto the ring with elastic, so if the weight is too much it will pull itself off the ring. My batch and a half of apple jelly was right on the edge. I did not squeeze the bag this year either as I had more time to let it all drain. This jelly bag did a tremendous job of not letting any solids through, so I did not have to restrain the juice before putting it into the pan for the cook.

Here is the small amount of overrun from the jelly. I took this picture from the top, so you could see how clear it turned out. I also had minimal foam to skim which resulted in five beautiful jars of perfectly clear blush colored apple jelly. The especially nice thing about having a little left over is that you can taste the early results of your work. We had this with some bread and soup for dinner. It was very light and fragrant, and the set on it was firm yet spreadable. I could turn the cup over without the jelly moving or sliding. A good set indeed!

From there, I squeezed the pulp back out of the bag and into my newly acquired vintage Foley food mill. This was the inaugural run for this, so I was super excited to try it out. The food mill worked like a charm, and with some prodding and poking, I got all the pulp out that I possibly could and left behind only the small scraps of skins from the pulp. It felt very satisfying to be able to use the spent pulp this year to make the apple butter. If you are not making apple jelly and want to just make apple butter, I posted my sister's wonderful crock pot apple butter recipe last year around this time. I used her spice ratio to season this year's pulp as well.

Cooking the pulp and spices to get the flavors through the mixture made me wish fall was here already. All the sweet smells of apple, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice created the biggest turkey and stuffing craving I think I have felt in a long time. From there it was a quick trip into the jars, sealing them, and then into the water bath. In the end, I had five half pints of jelly to four half pints of butter. I guess that is a good guideline for future jelly to butter recipes, that the butter will be one jar or so less than the jelly side of things.

Today I have already baked some bread using the Reinheart's Artisan Bread Everyday cookbook. It has made me want to dig right in, but I still have to wait for the loaf to cool. Once it has, I have a feeling that I will be digging in for a sandwich! This loaf looks like one of the best ones I have made yet, and I promise to post pictures and baking notes on it tomorrow. This was my first attempt at his Soft Sandwich Bread, so I hope it all turned out. If it tastes as good as it smells, I think I am in for a real treat.

Hopefully I can try out his recipe for pull apart rolls. Those are our favorite way to convey apple butter to your taste buds. Today I am off to take a quick walk to pick up more lemons. I do not have enough for today's canning plans: apple pie filling! I cannot wait to get this done and make up a pie for tonight's dinner, even if it means more peeling and coring. After that, more apples are going into the dehydrator, and then perhaps some work on my velvet wreath. I hope to get it done before the end of August, and it looks like I am rapidly running out of time.

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