Ever since I started eating seasonally last year, I’ve wanted to learn to can. I do love associating certain vegetables and fruits with certain seasons and anticipating the arrival of the next crop of produce at the farmer’s market. But last Christmas I asked for canning supplies (thanks Mom and Amy!) so I could can up some goodness at the peak of the season. My thought is that if I can tomatoes from the farmer’s market in summer, I can have local organic tomato sauce or stewed tomatoes all year round, and I’ll know exactly what goes into them. (Side note: I was shocked yesterday to find that Campbell’s tomato soup, which I love, has tomatoes as the first ingredient and high fructose corn syrup as the second! Can you believe it? There is no end to where they’ll sneak that stuff into our food. Greg and I were joking yesterday that if I added a bit of msg, some refined white flour, and some high fructose corn syrup into anything I made, it would probably taste better. Oh dear.) Anyway, it’s a nice bonus to know where your food comes from, what’s in it, and that it actually IS food, not something masquerading as food.
All that to say, I did not can any tomatoes this year. I started easy with spiced apples. Oh, are they tasty. When we ventured up to Oak Glen for a field trip, I snagged a whole bushel of apples for $17.00! Then the boys and I spent Saturday making homemade chunky spiced applesauce. I know I’m the last one in the world to own this amazing contraption…
…it is miraculous! It slices, it cores, it peels! It makes homemade applesauce fun, even for little boys and inexperienced city slickers like me. The boys were actually fighting over who got to prep the apples for the sauce. The nice thing about applesauce (as compared with pomegranate jelly, which I made with my mom later) is that the timing is very flexible. I just threw the apples into a stockpot with some lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar, and a bit of water and let it simmer most of the day as I found time to can a batch here and a batch there.
In the end, I have ten jars to give away as Christmas gifts and four large jars to keep for our family. Next year I definitely need to make more, as these spiced apples are a perfect base for my favorite apple crisp topping recipe: 3/4 c. flour, 1/3-1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 t. salt blended together then mix in 1/2 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 cubes. Mix with your fingertips until it resembles crumbs, then sprinkle overtop of the apples. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes or until topping is golden and fruit is bubbling.
So I didn’t get any other produce canned this year, but I did manage to store away some apples and some jelly in this, my first canning year. A girl has to start somewhere, doesn’t she?