Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Report: Apples: From Harvest to Table

One of the best things about being a food blogger is occasionally, book publishers send me cookbooks to review.  Other times, I hear about new cookbooks and I check them out of the library.   If they look good, I will get them.   Here's an update one of the latest....

First up is Apples: From Harvest to Table by Amy Pennington.   I have enjoyed other books she has written, such as Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen, and living in Michigan, which is a huge apple producer.  I had to check it out, specifically for its jams jellies and relishes chapter.  Anyone that gets into jam and jelly making big time eventually finds themselves worshipping at the altar of Christine Ferber, the jam and jelly maven of France.   You may find yourself getting her famous cookbook   Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber, which is fun to look at but very, very difficult to actually use because the recipes never turn out right.   It's a good read for inspiration, however.   The best idea in Mes Confitures is her method of making green apple pectin;  I am a big fan of making my own pectin from apples and lemons.  Ferber's recipe doesn't really work out right, but Amy Pennington's recipe simplifies it....

Green Apple Pectin

Green apple pectin is made from any undeveloped green apple picked from the tree before ripening.

3 lbs green apples (Amy suggests that early July is a great time to pick)
6 cups water
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Juice of 1 small lemon

Remove stems and cut apples into quarters. Toss in pot and cover them with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain this apple mixture through a fine mesh strainer, pressing lightly on the back of the fruit. Compost solids. Filter apple juice again through a cheesecloth so you have a nice clear( liquid. - Wet and wring out your cheesecloth first.  Measure 4 1/4 cups apple liquid and add to a saucepan with the lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a boil, skim the foam and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes. Check set. You want a thick syrup or jam-y set.  Jar and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.  

I'd only use this style of homemade pectin for a jelly, because it's clear and it would be a challenging  experiment to see how much of this style of pectin you'd need for a jelly.   If you are making jam, use my method instead, it will always work.   I like her use of it instead of the typical "Clear Jel" in her apple pie filling.   Her recipe is similar to this one...just substitute 1/3 - 1/2 cup apple pectin for the Clear Jel in the recipe.  

The rest of the book features lots of other apple recipes for main dishes, side dishes and desserts.   I already have a Dexter Cider Mill Apple Cookbook on my bookshelf - if I needed another, it certainly would be this book.   Check it out!

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