Canning is having a moment and I've been wanting to learn the ins and outs of this old-fashioned and simple method of preserving what's fresh and in season. So I paid a visit to the lovely Jen Smith of Full Moon Pickles and Preserves (do do you know about her Pickle of the Month Club? It's genius) for a quick lesson in the art of making apple butter. The first step was to peel and core five pounds of apples. When she pulled out this nifty little gadget alongside a big bowl of apples, my jaw nearly fell to the floor. You simply attach it to the side of a table and start peeling away.
Jen, who does nearly everything by hand, says this tool saved her culinary life during apple season.
Jen took a quick break to check on persimmons that she's letting ripen completely before putting them up. I wonder what she's going to make with these beauties!
We threw the apples in a pot and added lemon juice, slices of fresh ginger and cardamom pods bundled in cheesecloth. We brought the mixture up to a simmer and stirred frequently to prevent burning. You want the apples to soften. As you can imagine this takes a while.
As the apples were slowly morphing into butter, Jen made us potato pancakes with yogurt and pumpkin butter served alongside her homemade pickles. Such a homey lunch. A reminder that simple food can sometimes be the best.
She also took me on a tour of her favorite spices. Cinnamon is over-used, she says. Interesting! Like we did with this recipe, Jen often bundles up herbs and spices in cheesecloth, adds them to a big pot and then removes them at the end of cooking.
Once it looks like there is almost no moisture remaining, we mashed the apples and added a splash of rose water. Have any of you cooked with rose water before? It's kind of delightful. I made rose water macaroons once and they were heavenly.
The other crucial element to canning is sterilizing the jars and lids. It involves boiling water and a little bit of patience.
I loved Jen's nifty funneling tool. We loaded up the jars, tightened them just so and put them back in the boiling water for a ten minute bath.
And voila! Beautiful jars of apple butter! Many thanks to sweet Jen for sharing her canning process with me. I think this will be my answer to any gift giving dilemmas this holiday season.
Jen Smith's Apple Butter with Lemon, Ginger, Cardomom and Rose Water :
- 5lbs Organic Fuji Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 2 T lemon juice
- 4 2 inch slices of Ginger
- 20 Cardamom pods in cheese cloth
- 1 T Rose Water
Combine first four ingredients.
Simmer for two hours, stirring regularly to prevent burning, or until almost no moisture is left. Remove ginger slices and cardamom bundle.
Mash or puree the apples.
Add rose water.
Sterilize jars. Fill jars with butter. Process in water bath for 10 minutes.
Makes about 5 half pints.