Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Harvest Time is the Best Time of Year

Iowa has had such a weird summer too- very early warm weather, everything was in bloom earlier than usual, then just not enough rain to even keep the few piddly things in my garden alive. Many many fruit trees in the state suffered.

I was lucky enough to have a friend with a GIANT apple tree and GIANT pear tree that produced massive amounts of fruit this year- way more than their family of two would ever eat. Rather than let it all fall and rot, she generously offered some to us- we just had to come and pick as much as we wanted.

So we loaded ourselves and two 5 gallon buckets and an unknown number of grocery sacks and headed over. Best score of the year !!! As I sat and watched the Vikings lose I peeled a crockpot full of apples and started my first batch of apple butter, I'm sure I'll be adding more apples to that batch this afternoon as it cooks down. I have always loved making apples in the crockpot, and the recipe is so super simple. Maybe I'll try a pear butter and a pear and apple butter ? Maybe ? I'm searching the internet for other uses for these fruits besides the obvious butters and applesauce (we really don't like applesauce)

Crockpot Apple Butter

peeled, cored and cut up apples to fill the crockpot
sugar to taste
cinnamon 1-2 tsp, more if you  like
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg.

Place all ingredients in the crockpot. You can add a small amount of liquid to help cook and break down and cook the fruit but go on the light side. You'll be cooking this to a thicker texture later so the less water to add the easier it gets.

I put the lid on, turned to high and let it sit for the second half of the game. Then I added another pile of apple chunks and mixed them in, turned it to low, and went to bed. This morning they are getting soft but not broken down enough so I left them a while longer.

When the apple butter has cooked enough that it rounds up on a spoon and is thick and golden brown, it's time to can up. I spoon the apple butter into hot jars, wipe the rims, fix the lid and ring and into the water bath for 10 minutes of processing. Besides being delicious, chemical free and homemade, they make delicious gifts !!

Now as for the pears...... I am having trouble finding interesting things to make from them. They are still nice and firm so I will of course do halves and slices, but I'd like to experiment beyond pear jam and pear butter. I found a chutney recipe that looks interesting. Found pickled pears but that sure didn't appeal to me much.  I'm just so thankful and excited to have generous and loving friends who share !!

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