Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Preservation Windfall

As you may have noticed, I had no market report this weekend. That's because I ended up heading to the Farm with the Renaissance Man Friday evening and didn't get back until late last night.

I haven't been to the Farm for a good visit since the fish-filled farm gathering in early July, and I've missed it. But with so many construction and cleanup projects going on there, and so many food preservation projects going on here, I just had to be patient.

Still, it was good to get out this weekend and to enjoy wandering around the better part of 60 acres to see what's been going on in my absence. And, as I always do when I'm there, I kept my eyes open for wild edibles.

Though some of my favorites are still growing -- plenty of lamb's quarters and such, plus another good harvest of red clover blossoms for the taking -- I was especially thrilled to find that the crabapple trees in front of the house were not only loaded with fruit, but they had dropped many windfalls. And with the Renaissance Man's amused blessing, I grabbed a bag and went out to pick.

They're not pretty, given the bruises and wormy spots. But once I had a chance to sit down this afternoon, I washed and cut up the crabapples, getting rid of the nasty bits, and tossed them into a pot of water laced with lemon juice.

The point of that, of course, was to simmer the crabapples into softness before turning them into crabapple butter.

Just like when I make applesauce, I ran the simmered crabapples through my sturdy chinois, pressing out the pulp and leaving skins and seeds behind.

But to make a fruit butter, as with apple butter, you have to cook the fruit pulp a while longer to let it thicken and deepen in flavor. I decided to pour the crabapple puree into a casserole dish, added some maple sugar and spices, and let it continue to cook in the oven while I moved on to another project.

Once it had thickened enough to suit my tastes, I poured the crabapple butter into hot sterilized jars, added lids and rings, and processed them in a boiling water bath (for the same amount of time as applesauce).

And there you have it! Foraged fruit, cooked and civilized into glass jars for winter. What fun!

What could be butter?

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