Thursday, September 15, 2011
Canning is becoming more familiar to me. The proof? I canned a recipe of my own creation for the 1st time this week!
Lately, whenever I find fruit at an incredible price, I buy it up quickly and then get a wild hair and decide to can it. We'll enjoy my efforts this winter, when fruit is more expensive. And, I'm putting some away for Christmas gift-giving. (Shhhhhhh!)
This time, I bought up some cheap Gala apples and Bartlett pears. I still have pounds of blueberries in my freezer from when we went blueberry picking, so I decided to pair the three ingredients and make Blueberry-Pear-Applesauce!
I perused a lot of recipes online to get an idea of how to proceed. To me, the most time consuming part of canning is the fruit prep you have to do beforehand. Peeling, coring, slicing. It takes forever, and my almost-2-year-old wants to eat every bit as I go. I don't have a food mill or any other fancy equipment, but I really wanted to save some time with my applesauce making.
I took some hints from Lindsey at Passionate Homemaking, because she includes the peels when she cans her applesauce. From what I've read, I can't find anything that says it's unsafe to can the sauce with the peels, and it increases the nutritional value of your applesauce if you include them!
So here's what I did:
1st, wash the apples and pears. I did a double recipe, using around 14 lbs of apples and pears total.
Next, core and slice the apples and pears, leaving the peels on. I used my handy (cheap!) apple corer/slicer for the apples. To core the pears, simple cut them in half from top to bottom and use a metal spoon to scoop out the core. Then cut the pear into a few large slices.
Put the cut and cored apples and pears into a stock-pot containing around 1/2 inch of water at the bottom. Add in two pounds of rinsed blueberries (fresh or frozen). Cook on high until boiling, then reduce heat to medium and cook until the fruit is softened (around 1/2 hr.).
This is a good time to get your water bath canner ready. I sanitize my canning jars in boiling water for 10 minutes, and it takes awhile to get that much water to boil. You can also sanitize your jars in the dishwasher (I don't have one). Boil your lids in a small saucepan for around 5 minutes. Then lower the heat and simply keep them hot until you need them.
It smells divine right about now. What a fabulous fruit combination! I also did a batch of just pear-applesauce while I was at it.
Next, put the cooked fruit into your food processor or blender and blend to the desired chunkiness. I processed mine very well, since I didn't want the peels to stand out very much. Place the sauce back into the hot pot and add in your desired sugar and spices. I used 1 cup of Sugar, 1 tsp. of Cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp. Allspice. Next time around, I will up the cinnamon to at least 2 tsp.
Next, fill your sanitized jars up with the yummy fruit sauce! I always forget to take a picture at this junction, because I'm so caught up in the process of filling the jars (it's so pretty!). Leave around 1/2 inch of headspace, and wipe the rim of each jar with a damp washcloth before you place the lid on. Stray fragments of sauce on the rim could keep the jars from sealing.
Process the jars in boiling water (they should be completely submersed in the water) for 20 minutes. Then carefully remove each jar (with the handy canning tong-thing) without bumping it and place it on your kitchen counter on top of a flat towel. Allow the jars to cool. Then you can test each lid to make sure that it sealed by pressing on the top of the lid. The lid shouldn't budge or pop if it's properly sealed. If any of your jars don't seal, pop them in the fridge and eat within a few weeks.
I love how the jars look, sitting pretty on the counter as they cool. How lovely is that purple sauce? I ate some warm sauce on top of a piece of buttered toast (with a dollop of whipped cream on top, I confess) and it was so good. There is a small texture difference with the peels added in, but it didn't bother me in the least. Squishy ate some right up for breakfast. :)
Linked to Tasty Tuesday.