Sunday, September 21, 2008

Butter Plans for the Weekend

Though the Renaissance Man was heading to The Farm this weekend, I made plans to stay home and visit My Wonderful Parents.

It wasn't an easy decision. On the one hand, there was The Farm in all its glory, needing a helping hand picking up debris after the remains of Hurricane Ike swept through. On the other hand, visiting with my parents instead of his meant I could help the Chef Mother pin a quilt, make lunch, and cook apple butter.

We've made applesauce before, the Chef Mother and I, but we've never made apple butter. So I stuck around for that.

My Wonderful Parents had visited two local orchards this past week and picked up plenty of good fresh cider and bags of McIntosh and Cortland apples. By the time I arrived at their place yesterday morning, they had chopped a bag of McIntosh apples and dumped them into their canner with some of the cider to let it all simmer and soften. Talk about a sweet greeting!

While the Chef Mother and I pin-basted a new quilt for My Dear Papa, he sauced the softened apples, using my chinois to get a thick puree out of the fruit. (I gave him a break toward the end as he was getting pretty worn out.)

We added spices, lemon peel, and brown sugar to the apple sauce and returned it to the stove, letting it bubble away quietly over low heat until it had darkened and thickened into apple butter.

I filled the sterilized jars with the apple butter and passed them along to the Chef Mother, who wiped the rims, added lids and rings, and set them into the canner.

And after ten minutes in a boiling water bath, we had seven sealed pint jars of apple butter, and two almost-full pints of unprocessed apple butter to tuck directly into our respective refrigerators. What a treat that will be!

Having been so inspired, then, by our cooperative efforts yesterday, I pulled out my Concord grapes this morning. After removing them from the stems and washing them, I simmered them with a bit of water -- just as I do in making grape juice -- and ran the softened grapes through my chinois. The difference here is that I didn't strain the grapes' liquid through a jelly bag; I wanted every thick bit of juice and pulp from the grapes that I could get.

Once I had pureed all the grapes and cast away the skins and seeds for compost, I added sugar and a hint of cinnamon to the pulp and started simmering it, cooking it down to about half its original volume.

Though I didn't get the grape butter quite as thick as I would have liked, by the time I stopped cooking it, I only filled a pint jar and a half-pint jar with the preserves. Ten minutes in a boiling water bath was again all that I needed before I had shelf-ready grape butter, thick and sweet and delicious!

So while I do still miss not seeing The Farm this weekend -- especially since the weather has been warm and sunny and delightful -- I'm not going to complain.

I think I got the butter deal.

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At 9/23/2008 7:55 AM, Blogger Tara said...

We just found a great little family orchard in Rittman and snagged two and a half pecks of apples for $13, so I imagine there will be some apple butter and apple sauce making going on at our house too. Yum!

At 9/23/2008 8:09 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Bauman's? That's one of the orchards where my folks found their apples and cider. They've got a nice little store. Hope you enjoy canning -- the fragrance will be wonderful!

At 9/23/2008 3:05 PM, Blogger Kelly said...

OK, your feed disappeared from my feed reader...then reappeared with 31 posts! So I'm going to try to catch up on what you've been busy with as summer came to a close. Dang! I am already jealous of your canning!

At 9/23/2008 3:09 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

It's good to have you back, Kelly. :-)


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