Thursday, September 11, 2008

Making progress

Armed with the gifts of a canning funnel and special mason-jar tongs, (thanks mom!) and The Joy of Cooking's All About Canning, (thanks Jen and Corrine!), my third canned food project went pretty smoothly. All it really is is a set of procedures to learn, and once you've repeated them enough they become habitual. Heat, fill, seal, repeat.
Getting the apple butter to the point where it was more than just brownish slurry was an adventure. I had two different recipes for oven-baked apple butter, one advising cooking at 200 degrees for 10 hours, and another advising cooking at 350 for two hours, with regular stirring. Two hundred degrees did not work. After eighteen hours of that (and leaving my oven on overnight, joys) I edged the temp up to 350 and was done after an hour. Aside from leaving me with an incredibly sticky, blackened baking pan, the whole thing was pretty easy. And tasty! I've been eating slices of Farmers Market wheat bread with butter and apple butter all week for lunch. Not the healthiest, maybe, but damn is it good!
These guys are probably going to be Christmas gifts, hence the labels and pretty fabric. I love giving food for Christmas. I've done Winter Squash Butter, Cilantro Almond Pesto, Irish Stout Gingerbread, Harvest Nuts & Seeds. Homemade Dog Biscuits. Raspberry Pear Preserves. Every year it's something a little different, always warmly received.
This weekend, my friend Kat is coming down, and we're going to turn my kitchen into a salsa factory. Tomorrow is the Farmer's Market. I'll probably purchase somewhere in the vicinity of thirty pounds of tomatoes, good lord, for our salsa-making exploits. After processing the pickles and applesauce I plan on making later, I think I can officially consider myself "over" my canning anxiety.
All it took was a crammed freezer to turn me into a canning addict. I'm hooked.


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