Apples have never struck me as a farmstand item that needed to be canned. After all, Nob Hill Orchards and the amazing Susan Behling shows up at our little Broad Branch/Lafayette Elementary School market year round. Susan and George – they know how to store apples. As late as March, their apples taste fresh and crisp. I think there are at least 30 varieties, tho only a dozen or so appear at market each week.
Because there is no scarcity of good, local apples, I can always make a batch of applesauce if we’re having latkes or pork chops or some other food that begs for a side of that cinnamon-y apple goodness. Applesauce was the first recipe I learned in seventh grade Home Economics; consequently, I’ve never seen the reason to buy it ready made.
So, over the years, I’ve looked at recipes for canning applesauce or cinnamon-red-hot apple rings or other old fashioned apple pickles and preserves, and other than Apple Pie Jam, was not motivated. In fact, most years, I pack away the canning equipment October 1st and set my focus on holiday cooking.
This year is different. Eugenia Bone is to blame. I couldn’t get her recipe for Spiced Apples out of my head. And from now on, it will have a place on the pantry shelves. Brilliant – having the filling for a little apple turnover on the shelf! I love the stuff. It has a great texture, much more mouth-satisfaction than applesauce and a super fresh, just picked flavor that thrilled me.
There were a few things that went awry, or weren’t clear, in the recipe. Here are some notes.
You’re instructed to grate the apples on a box grater, peel and all, right down to the core. Or put the peeled and cored apples through the food processor to grate. I had a hard time understanding why I shouldn’t include the peel if I used the food processor, so left it on. This made quick work of six pounds of apples – the whole coring/grating part took about 10 minutes, total.
The trick to this recipe is in packing the jars. They need to be well-packed, and you’ll need to be sure to remove the air bubbles by pressing with this bubble remover, or a knife, all along the inside of the jar. Be careful about headspace. Be meticulous about wiping the tops of the jars. I had some siphoning in my first batch and I think it was caused by a big air bubble that popped the seal and spilled over during processing.
I also opted not to save the apple juice for granita, as Ms. Bone suggests, but put it right back into the syrup for a double dose of apple goodness. (I did taste some of it first and it was the BEST apple juice I’ve ever had. Really made me wonder if I should be canning apple juice.)
I loved these apples spooned into 5″ circles of pie crust, folded over into half moons and crimped, then baked for 30 minutes. The perfect little hand pie.
slightly adapted from Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone
Makes 4 pints
6 lbs. mixed apples – a blend of sweet, tart, firm, and sauce apples
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp Citric Acid – Fruit Fresh
Line a large colander with a clean cotton towel and place it over a big bowl.
Wash the apples and cut around the core in large chunks.
Put these large apple pieces through the food processor’s grating disk.
Scoop out the apples and press them into the towel lined colander.
Sprinkle 1/4 c sugar and the spices over the apples and gently mix with your hands.
Gather the towel and squeeze the grated apples well, but not obsessively. You’ll have 2-3 c liquid.
Pour the apple juice into your preserving pot or a large stockpot. Add the remaining sugar.
Bring the sugar and juice to a boil and add in the apples, stirring to coat.
Bring the mixture up to a big boil for 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat.
To each sterilized pint jars add 1/2 tsp Fruit Fresh and pack well with the apple mixture. Leave 1/2″ headspace.
If you have packed the pints properly, you will have little or no apple left in the pot.
Wipe the rims, place the lids and rings, and finger tighten.
Process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes. Check the seals the next day and reprocess if necessary.