Summer is winding down and the canner is getting lots of use. This time I'm canning apples.
This is the first year since we moved in here that we had a decent apple harvest. I’m pretty sure that has something to do with the 3-inch thick layer of wood chips I put around the base of the tree last fall.
This year I pulled a market basket full of apples off the tree. This may have been a little early, but I didn’t want to wait until they were all wormy. I put them in a big paper bag and let them finish ripening there. I canned them up yesterday.
I got nine pints from that basket if apples. Yes, I can count: One didn’t seal and it’s in the refrigerator. I probably forgot to wipe the rim. By the time I got to the canning run it was getting late and Marie would be home soon and I was rushing.
These are just plain apples, no seasoning or fancy stuff done to them. I figure they’re more versatile that way.
I peeled and cored the apples and sliced them into a bowl of lemon water solution to keep them from turning brown. When I had a bowl full, I transferred them to a stock pot with 1/2 gallon apple juice in it. I simmered the apple slices in the apple juice for 5 minutes to blanch them – that kills off the enzymes that will cause the fruit to degrade even after canning or freezing.
I removed the batch and put them in a covered pot to keep them warm while I worked on the next batch. Peeling and coring took a lot longer than I expected it would. I should probably buy one of those apple peeler thingies to speed up the process – but I only do this once a year and we have just the one apple tree. One more thing to have to find a place for and rarely use.
When they were all blanched, I packed the hot apple slices into hot, sterilized jars, ladled liquid from the stock pot in – leaving 1/2-inch head space, wiped the rim, installed a lid and returned the filled jar to the canner – which has been kept on medium heat to keep it hot but not quite boiling.
When all were filled, I turned up the heat under the canner again and water bathed them for 30 minutes. Folks at a lower altitude can get away with 25 minutes.
I have no idea what kind of apples these are: The tree was here when we moved in. I do know they are of little use as an eating apple: too tart when eaten raw. But for cooking they hold their shape well and have a decent flavor. These should be versatile enough to be used in a number of ways. I was going to can them up as apple pie filling with cinnamon and nutmeg, but the pectin Marie bought for me insisted that it be used only with real sugar, not a sugar substitute or it won’t thicken. I was planning to use Truvia because we can’t use all that sugar. Change of plan: Plain apples it is.
Once the jars cooled I wiped the white hard-water haze off of them, labeled the lids put them in a box and totted them over to our food storage room. We will enjoy using these this winter. And I need to remember to replenish the wood chips around that apple tree!