Before you answer NO! Read on and see how easy it is to make something you and your family will enjoy. You will make something you can brag to all your neighbors and relatives that you cooked something the “Old Fashioned” way. Some things your grandmother and maybe your mother made will no longer be a mystery. So let’s get started by me telling you a little about my self and how I qualify to be your teacher.
I started home canning about the age of 5. We lived just across the backyard from my father’s parents. My grandmother was one of the old-fashioned women that always got up hours before the rest of the family and made a big hot breakfast (this was before you put a couple of Pop-Tarts in the toaster and called that a hot breakfast). She always made biscuit and eggs and all the breakfast items you would have expected. For the noon meal (called dinner) she made corn bread. She made a full meal with meat and veggies and had it on the table when the grandmother clock on the mantle start to chime noon. My grandfather always had a way of pulling up before the clock stopped chiming. To top all this off, at 5PM she had another full meal (called supper) with both fresh biscuits and cornbread. This went on every day that I can remember. She was a real “Southern Housewoman”, you know like the ones that you read about in all the novels.
My grandmother did lots of home canning whenever there was things to put up. She canned all types of fruits and vegetables and made jellies, jams and preserves. She taught me this and I will try to pass some of this on to you. I will try to show you how to make something with methods modernized to some extent.
I have tried to carry the teaching she gave me forward into my business and home life today. For almost 15 years my wife and I had a canning business that started with 4 varieties and a card table and built up to a large store/factory, an 18′ trailer, an F-150 pickup and over 1500 varieties of products made the “Old Fashioned Way”. We made every jar or bottle that we sold. We never worried about the products we sold because we ate it along with our whole family.
How about Apple Butter for our first recipe? I will show you how to use short cuts. You will you will use store bought items in place of going to the orchard and picking a bushel of apples. I figured most of you would delete me at that point. The first thing to do is make a shopping list: Unsweetened Apple Sauce (make sure it is unsweetened) Cane Sugar (it makes a difference) Cider Vinegar, and these ground spices: Cinnamon, Allspice and Cloves. We will combine al these ingredients and cook in a crock pot, yes I said crock pot. You will also need 1/2 pint or pint canning jars and a canning pot, both of these are usually available at a hardware store (not warehouse). Check the size of your crock pot and make the recipe according to that size, don’t to forget to account for the sugar in the volume.
For each cup apple sauce use 3/4 cup sugar. to 4 cups applesauce and 3 cups sugar add 1 Tbls cider vinegar, 1Tbls cinnamon, 1/2 Tbls allspice and 1/4 tsp cloves. Mix well and cook 6-8 hours. Check your crock pot occasionally and stir it completely, this keeps anything from sticking and also lets you know how things are going. Your house will smell unbelievably delicious. To make the apple butter thicken remove the cover for the last hour or two. When finished (when it has that dark rich color of Mahogany) put the Apple Butter in the cleaned jars, leave a 1/2 inch space an on the top for a good seal. Wipe the top and place the cleaned dome and rings on, fight tight but not to tight so it can’t seal. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for a full 10 minutes. Make sure the water is at least 2 inches over the top. If you are not using a canning pot, do not set the jars on the bottom they will break. After you remove the jars set on a level spot to cool undisturbed for at least 6 hours. The jars are sealed when the dome on the top is inverted. They will be good for at least 1 -2 years, if they last that long.
How your family responds to this will make the effort well worth it. If you don’t make biscuits from scratch then buy good canned biscuits, not the ones on sale, they are worth the difference in price.
Please let me know how yours turned out. Tell me what you would like to make, give me some suggestions. In future blogs I will tell you ways to use your apple butter in day-to-day cooking; it’s not just for breakfast.