Sunday, October 11, 2009

Killing Frost and Crabapple Butter

Last night, I am sure we got a killing frost. We had a light frost a couple weeks ago, and the remains of my garden were still hanging on, but when I looked out the kitchen sink window at my thermometer was reading 29F. At first light, I'll take a look and see what's going on. It's still dark right now. In my small herb garden I still had some greens growing that I sowed in August, as well as some oregano and some mint and sage. I had potted up some of my herbs to try to keep them going over the winter inside. I left the sage out there, though. I had a sage plant in years past that was almost like an evergreen - it stayed green all winter and I used to pick leaves from it when snow was on the ground. It was like a bush and I used to brag that I couldn't kill it when I finally ended up doing just that by moving it once too many times. I grew sage from seed via winter sowing and I got one plant out of it (although oregano, basil and some of the flowers turned out really well and I will definitely try some more again this year). I am hoping this sage plant will soldier on through the cold months like my old one did. My neighbor is getting new windows, so I am going to try to fashion a cold frame out of his old ones with some bales of hay. That will be next weekend's project!

This weekend, I am making crab apple butter. This is the first time I've tried it, and I've gotta say I love it! . There's nothing like free food, and my neighbor has a crab apple tree. She gave me a couple bags full and I threw them in the crock pot on low with a little water last night before I went to bed. They are small, so I just removed the stem ends. When I woke up this morning, they were ready to be pureed. I continue to adore my KitchenAid fruit and vegetable strainer attachment which made making the crab apple puree a snap. It's a much better purchase than a food mill, which takes forever to do and is a pain to store. Somehow, I ended up with two food mills in my house (one I bought new when I first started canning, the other I got at a garage sale) and if you ask me, it's 2 too many! If you've already got a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, just buy the fruit and vegetable strainer attachment. You'll love it!

This morning, I pureed my crab apples and added the remaining ingredients and put everything back in the crock pot on high for a few hours with the lid off to see how that would work for reducing the sauce to butter. Not sure how this will work, but I'll let you know in a later post. But if it doesn't, I can always cook it down on the stove top. Here's the recipe I used for the crab apple butter - my husband said last night that the crab apples get sweeter after the frost, so maybe I will pick some more today and make more. Right now, the puree is a beautiful color pink and smells great. There's nothing like canning something for darn near next to free! My cost will only be the sugar, spices and lids. This probably will work out to 25 cents a jar!

Crab Apple Butter
4 lbs crab apples, stems removed and halved. If they are small, they can be left whole
1 cup water
2 cup sugar
1 t. dried grated orange feel
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger

Put apples and water in a large crock put and cover, cook until apples are soft, about 8 hours on LOW. Strain apples using a food mill or fruit strainer until a uniform texture is reached. You should have 6 cups puree. Return to crock pot (or saucepan for stove top cooking) and add spices and stir frequently. Cook down until the fruit butter can hold it's shape on a spoon, to check it put a small amount on a chilled plate. When the liquid doesn't separate and create a rim around the edge, and it holds a buttery, spreadable shape when you pass your finger through it, it's ready to can. Ladle into jars leaving a 1/4 inch head space, and adjust caps. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Yields about 6 half pints...


Buttercup said...

A great hint about the KitchenAid vegetable puree attachment. Did you purchase this separately and does it come with the food and meat grinder? It was a little unclear from their website.

Janine at Rustic Kitchen said...

I am now looking at my crabapple tree in a new light. Now the birds will have some competition -- thanks for the recipe.