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canning

Good Things Come In Jars

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When you’re an out and proud canner like I am, come the holidays, most of your nearest and dearest pretty much take it for granted they’ll be getting something tasty in a jar. And for good reason. From marmalades to fruit butters, pickles to jams, the provisions I’ve put up all through the growing season were intended for both our own pantry and for at-the-ready gift-giving. While I’d love to be able to give friends and family exquisite, original, hand-crafted, artisan gifts, sometimes finances just don’t allow. I’ve found home-canned goods are just as meaningful to give and just as happily received as store-bought goods while keeping my purse in the positive.

While  the simple, humble jar, unadorned and unfestooned, certainly has its place, I like to give mine an added bit of flair, especially this time of year. Some disks cut from note cards rest atop the lid (scrapbooking paper or fabric would be nice here, as well), while a bit of twine or ribbon embellish the screw band. Simple, yet lovely. Great for last-minute gift-giving that has a personal touch.

My Cardamom Apple Cider Butter is a much-loved favorite amongst my kith and kin. Since you’re all another type of family to me (of the digital kind!), I figured sharing it with you here today seemed like just the right thing. I was just at the market today and saw a wealth of apple varieties still available, so whipping up jars of this fruit butter is a great wintertime canning option.

Here’s wishing you and yours jar-upon-jar of delicious eats, this holiday season and anytime!

 

Cardamom Apple Cider Butter
While I’m an equal-opportunity spice lover, if forced to choose my favorite, I’d probably have to say cardamom. Its aromatic sweetness is beyond compare. Partnered here with apple cider, this apple butter would be just as good slathered onto hot buttered toast as it would be spooned onto slices of warm pound cake.
Yield: 6 half-pint jars.
(Recipe reprinted with permission from Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More © 2010 by Ashley English, Lark Crafts, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.)

You Will Need:
-5 pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (good choices include: Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, McIntosh, Newton, Pippin, or Winesap)
-1 ½ c. apple cider
-2 ½ c. granulated sugar
-3 tsp. ground cardamom
*Alternately, if you have access to cardamom pods, remove the seeds from 4 pods and grind until powdered in a coffee grinder or spice mill for a more intense cardamom flavor.

To Prepare:
1) Place apples and cider in a large stainless-steel pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. If additional liquid is necessary, add water in 2 Tbsp. increments. Remove from heat.
2) Next, either press the cooked apple mixture through a food mill or fine-meshed sieve, puree in a food processor once slightly cooled, or use an immersion blender and puree the mixture in the pot. If using food processor or blender, blend just until smooth, but not runny.
3) Once pureed, return to pot, add sugar and cardamom, and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes until butter thickens and clings to a spoon. Stir often to prevent mixture from sticking. Remove from heat.
4) While butter cooks, sterilize 6 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 boiling point. Place lids in a small saucepan, fill with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat, remove from stovetop, and set aside.
5) Place hot jars on top of a kitchen cloth on the counter. With the help of a canning funnel, pack butter into jars, reserving ¼ -inch headspace. Use a non-metallic spatula to remove any trapped air bubbles and wipe rims clean with a damp cloth. Place on lids and screw bands, tightening only until fingertip-tight.
6) Using a jar lifter, place jars in canner. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Remember to adjust for altitude.

 

 

Let’s Put Things In Jars Together!

Come on out to my friend Natalie’s new gorgeous shop Small Terrain in East/West Asheville this Saturday. I’ll be making apple butter with locally fruit and teaching the basics of water bath canning.

It’s gonna be grand, folks! Call Natalie at the shop to reserve your spot. She can be reached at: 216-8102.

In My Kitchen

Allergy attack (head cold?) or not, the tomatoes in our garden aren’t sympathetic to my current medical condition. They’re ripening on the vine like it’s the middle of August (and it is!) and I needed to can them TODAY, so, that’s just what I did.

Huxley, for his part, was a total trooper about the whole thing. He went down around 2 p.m. for a two-hour (!!!) nap, allowing me to blanch, chop, and simmer the glorious veggi/fruits (veg-uits? fru-gies?) of summer. Thanks, little buddy.

Did I bribe him with a ready-and-waiting bowl of chocolate and vanilla ice cream when he awoke, so that I could continue my work, jarring and processing multiple pints of diced tomatoes? I happily, heartily plead guilty. I think, for his part, he was completely on board with my plan.