The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Okay, so I almost forgot to post this.
It actually had nothing to do with procrastinating this time around, surprisingly :) It just slipped my mind after I had made the Apple Butter. It probably has to do with the fact that I just went on a canning spree and canned apple butter, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, and tomato sauce. I was using the cucumbers and tomatoes from my garden. I am probably going to have to do one more round of tomato sauce very soon :)
So, as you can see, I have done the canning thing before.
My first memory of canning was sitting in my Nanny’s kitchen, while her and my Great Nanny made bread and butter pickles. Nanny still can’t believe that I remember that because I couldn’t have been more than 8 years old. I was more than likely younger because that was at the time that my Great Nanny still had a pretty nice size garden that she tended, so they were actually canning the stuff that she grew. With starting my own garden, I still think of my Great Nanny and Nanny still tells me that Great Nanny and I would have gotten on great since I am doing all the things that she use to do. It makes me smile.
I had my first hands on experience with canning in college, when I took a food nutrition class. We had a lab and everything. The class was lecture format and the lab was COOKING! We went through all different methods of cooking and of course canning was a chapter. I think my group canned peaches, which we then used in a peach pie later in the semester.
I probably started canning on my own a year after that class, which was around 2002. I started with blackberry preserves, and I would just use frozen blackberries. Yummy :) After college, I ended up living close to a berry farm so I would go pick strawberries when they were in season and use all of the extremely ripe berries to make preserves. I have kept up with boiling water bath canning. I am going to strike out into pressure canning in late fall when my sugar pumpkins and lima beans come in.
I ended up not using the recipe provided because it was a low sugar recipe and Mike would like all the sugar that he can get. I used a recipe that was actually very similar in Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English. I found this book to be fantastic and I am glad that I purchased it. I have already made 3 of the recipes in here and they have turned out great.
5 pounds cooking apples (Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, McIntosh, Newton, Pippin, or Winesap)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1) Peel, core, and roughly chop the apples. Place in a large stainless-steel pot, along with 2 cups water. Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Stir occationally to prevent sticking, and add water in 1/4 cup increments if sticking occurs. Remove from heat.
2) Press the cooked apple mixture through a food mill or fine-meshed sieve, puree in a food processor once slighted cooled, or use an immersion blender and puree the mixture in the pot.
3) Return the apple puree to the pot, add the sugar and spices, and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir often to prevent sticking. Remove from heat.
4) While the apple butter cooks, sterilize four half-pint mason jars, lids, and screw rings. Fill a canner or large stockpot with water, and set over medium-high heat. Bring just to the boiling point. Place the lids in a small saucepan, fill with water, and bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and set the pan aside.
5) Place the hot jars on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. With the help of a canning funnel, ladle apple butter into the jars, reserving 1/4 inch (6 mm) headspace. Use a nonmetalic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles, and wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on the lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.
6) Using a jar lifter, place the jars into the canner. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remember to adjust for altitude.
Variation: Use only cinnamon, or omit the spices altogether, for a basic apple butter where the flavor of the apples shines through.
If you haven’t canned before I would buy a book on the process so that you make sure you do everything correctly. Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English is a great source and explains the concept and process very thoroughly. Before you can anything on your own it is good to know exactly what you are doing and the reasons why because you could seriously make yourself sick if you don’t know what you are doing.