Dabbled with Apples

Apple!Rumor has it that this year’s apple crop is going to be the biggest in years. So it may have been a little shortsighted of us to go apple picking. Surely our CSA will be throwing more apples our way than we could possibly know what to do with in mere weeks time, but oh well: a-picking we shall go.

New York state puts us in a stellar place to take advantage of apple season. NY is second to Washington state in apple production, and we have literally hundreds of variations to choose from. So we, tra-la-la, took the Metro-North upwards a bit, met a loved one, and made a day of it.

Paige and Evan Promenade

Paige and Evan Reeaaach

Up iN that tree.

Maggie+Apple+Paige=<3.

Evan will tell you that no trip to an apple orchard is complete without (at least) one apple cider donut.

Cider Donuts

Hello Autumn

Hello big pumpkin.Back home, we contemplated what to do with our big ol’ bag of apples. A few years back we wrote Appletopia with a few good ideas, but this year, what with the apple palooza ahead, we might have to get creative.

If you caught our recent post on canning, this might not seem like such a shocker, but we decided to kick off the apple season by making and canning apple butter. We cut up all the apples (at least the ones that didn’t get snarfed down with crunchy peanut butter) and put them in a dutch oven.

IMG_6761

Ok, so here’s where apple butter gets really tricky. Put the apples in a pot, walk away, and leave them on low heat for several hours.

No, seriously, that’s how you make apple butter. A chimp could do it.

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Exiting Appleland

Disclaimer: No offense to chimps intended. They’re actually very intelligent animals. Like the majestic platypus.

Canned Laughter

Canning!Our CSA share has been positively monumental lately. So much so, that we’ve had too many tomatoes and peaches than we know what to do with. Winter, however, will not be quite so flush. Thus, we recently decided to start canning.

We’ve fantasized about canning our CSA share extras for the last few years, but the combination of our small kitchen and the daunting prospects of sterilization have always scared us off. This year we got the canning-mojo, and have since been canning up a storm. We mentioned in our post Ten Things To Do With Tomatoes that we’ve begun these procedures and that we’ve been tom-loaded, so we started with tomatoes, and have yet to stop.

Though we’ll go over some basics, if you need a more in-depth primer on how to proceed, check here.

Step 1. Sterilization

The number-one rule is to keep everything clean.  Start by cleaning your jars and lids well and then put them in a pot of boiling water.  We just leave them there until it’s time to fill them. They clank around a lot to let you know they’re getting nice and sterile.

Sterilizing Cans

Step 2. Prepare food

Doing tomatoes is really straightforward, and it’s the same for peaches. You don’t want the skins of either fruit, so drop them in boiling water for about a minute, then put them in an ice bath, after which the peels just fall away when you rub on them a little. Do this a few at a time and then place them in a colander above a bowl to save the juice. Once they’re all peeled, remove the core and cut into quarters.

Step 3. Can

Stuffing Those Toms InCarefully remove the sterilized jars and start adding the tomatoes, leaving about 1/2″ at the top (the “head space”). Use the reserved juices to cover the tomatoes, and remove as much air as possible by prodding with a chopstick or wood spoon.  Screw on the lids and “process” by placing the closed jars back in the boiling water for about 45 minutes to one hour (depending a bit on the size of the jar). Then just take out the jars and let stand for a few hours without moving them. The lids should make a very satisfying pop to let you know they’ve fully sealed.

Boiling CansThose are the basics!

We got a little fancy and roasted some tomatoes with garlic for some (mid-winter) summery sauces, which smelled heavenly.

Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil and Rosemary

Roasted Tomatoes

IMG_6429As we all know, peaches – much like tomatoes – become a sad-hybrid-pretend-fruit in the supermarket come late fall/early winter. Seriously, they taste like mealy soap. To combat this conundrum, we (mere days after tomato canning) canned a combination of yellow, white and donut peaches, which promises to be a heavenly treat come the frost.

Canning Peaches

And now we’re ready! We can pack up away and hibernate, not to be seen again until April or so. Our pantry (aka NYC closet) is stacked.

Canned Tomatoes

Canned Peaches

NYC Pantries (Closets)

Next up, apples.