• om nom nom straight from the spoon
    Cooking,  Kitsnacks,  Recipes

    making honey apple butter

    “So what is apple butter anyway,” you ask suspiciously, because frankly that sounds pretty weird.

    It’s not actually all that weird. It’s really a kind of apple jam. It’s a baked reduction and you can flavour it in a bunch of different ways and I’m getting better at it and it’s getting better as I do. I believe it’s called ‘butter’ because it’s lovely and smooth with maybe just a hint of apple graininess in the texture, not because there’s any actual butter involved. It preserves FOREVER–the stuff stays good, and stays good some more, and stays good after that–and although it’s *time* consuming, it’s also very easy to make. Most of the time is spent prepping the apples to cook down; everything else is really just putting it in the oven and remembering to stir it a few times while it does its thing.

    We finally broke out the nifty apple corer/slicer/peeler that Ted’s mom sent us and we put it to work on a bag of freshly collected apples. It worked BRILLIANTLY, reducing the time it takes to prepare enough apples for apple butter from over an hour down to about half an hour, and that included figuring out the ideal settings for it. If you have more than a few dozen apples to deal with, Iiiii would get one of these, ’cause wow.

    The process for all apple butters is as follows; basically the only difference is how you decide to flavour it when you reach the “put sweetener in” stage.

    the apple cutter in motion!
    the apple cutter in motion!
    sproingy apple!
    sproingy apple!

    Whrr! All done super fast. That was awesome. Into the pot!

    then just slice once & put into the pot...
    then just slice once & put into the pot…

    I didn’t take any picture of pureeing the cooked down apples, but basically: put 1.5 cups of apple juice in with the apples, turn the heat on, stir a couple times as it boils to mush, then puree. I used my food mill this time, which is…honestly, about equal in pain-in-the-assery as putting hot apple glop into a blender. And then you’ve got applesauce to pour into a deepish flatish enamal cooking dish.

    applesauce, pureed and tart as hell!
    applesauce, pureed and tart as hell!

    Put in a slow oven (around 325F) and cook for about an hour, stirring once or twice, until reduced by half:

    the 'waterline' there on the far side is proof in the pudding (er, applesauce) that it's cooked down by halfish.
    the ‘waterline’ there on the far side is proof in the pudding (er, applesauce) that it’s cooked down by halfish.

    Add honey, white sugar, and a teaspoon of salt. I used about a cup of honey this time, because that’s what I had available, and about 3 cups of sugar. (Our apples are VERY sour. YMMV; taste after putting the honey in & see what you think.) Adding the sugar & honey will refill the pot to about the previous full mark.

    reliquifided with added honey & sugar!
    reliquifided with added honey & sugar!

    Return to the oven, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until reduced by half again, probably around 90 minutes.

    such red! very color!
    such red! very color!

    It turns an amazing shade as the sugar caramelizes. My favourite thing about making apple butter is the different colors they all turn, depending on what you’ve put in it. The honey is super red and lovely.

    If you wish, stir in a teaspoon of cinnamon after you remove it from the oven.

    Jar as you would anything else.

    a bit of leftover honey apple butter that wouldn't fit in a jar :)
    a bit of leftover honey apple butter that wouldn’t fit in a jar :)

    Eat leftovers straight from the spoon.

    om nom nom straight from the spoon
    om nom nom straight from the spoon

    Miz Kit’s Honey Apple Butter
    4lbs prepared (peeled, cored, sliced) tart apples
    1.5 c apple juice/sweet cider
    8 oz honey
    3 c white sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

    Put apples and apple juice into a large pot, cover, and boil until the apples are soft (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. Puree the mix in a blender/food processor/whatever until smooth. Turn into a deep, flat enamal-lined pan & put into a pre-heated oven at 325°F (150°C, 130°C fan assisted) and roast, stirring very occasionally, for an hour or until the puree has reduced by half.

    Remove from oven. Stir in honey, sugar and salt. Return to oven for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring slightly more frequently. Add cinnamon when it comes out of the oven. Jar as you normally would, or refrigerate and be prepared to eat a great deal of apple butter over the coming weeks. Makes around 48oz/6 8oz jars.

  • crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam
    Actual Manor House,  Cooking,  Daily Life,  Food,  Gardening

    apples apples everywhere

    We picked apples on Sunday. This warped panorama does not do justice to the numbers of apples currently residing in our entryway:


    The bag in the back corner, and the white box, which is like 2×3′ or something, are also full of apples. There are So Many Apples. There’s a fairly large bag already missing, too, as I sent one home with my sister.

    A friend just dropped by and took away the small box next to the plant pots and the black bag at the foot of the photo, which made a small but visible dent. Ted said, “I can fix that. Want me to go pick more apples?”

    I gave him the look he deserved. :)

    I’ve been making apple jelly and jam almost daily. Now that we have ALL OF THESE off the trees I need to start apple butter, but it requires peeling so many apples I have to get started early or I’ll be doing apple butter at midnight.

    Here are the jams I’ve made so far. Soon they’ll be available on Etsy. Soon!

    crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam
    crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam

    This weekend I’m going to be bringing some to Octocon. If you happen to be going and see this post, there’s a poll here to ‘pre-order’ the jams you’d like, just to try to give myself a sense of how many I should bring. (Don’t fill it out if you’re not going to Octocon but want jam. The Etsy store will be up soon!)

    There are still so many apples on the trees, omg. Oh, the crabapples:


    13 pounds picked in half an hour, and that was literally only the low-hanging fruit on the tree. There’s got to be at least twice this again. I’m thinking of making crabapple butter, which I’ve never tried. I bet it’ll be an amazing color.

    Anyway there’s still hundreds of apples on the main tree and we DISCOVERED a random fifth apple tree in the front corner of our garden a couple of weeks ago and there’s the one tree that fell half down and IDK if it’s worth trying to shake the apples out of it because most of them are growing over a hedge, and there’s the other tree that hasn’t fallen down and we haven’t even made a *stab* at it yet.

    I’ve got so many apple recipes, but we can’t EAT this much!

  • Cooking

    worst. cooking. ever.

    I have, in a really stunning run, made two bad batches of fudge in a row and followed it up with pie crust worse than what I made at Thanksgiving, which was, up until then, easily the worst I’d ever made. But that’s okay, because the pie I then made was too sweet, too!

    Srsly. *dies in a pit*

    I’ve now gotten all the necessary ingredients to make experimental allergy-safe fudge for my friend’s dairy-and-eggs-allergic son, and since I was in the market anyway I also got enough to make dairy-free fudge, which is less experimental at this point, for another friend. I will then also make regular fudge for the other members of their families, so the allergy-ridden people are not obliged to share their limited supply of Safe Fudge.

    I just hope it all turns out better than the past several baking attempts, because really, this is embarrassing.

    And yes, if the dairy-and-egg-free fudge turns out, I’ll post the recipe, although the key ingredient is AFAICT impossible to come by on this side of the pond. Still, could be helpful for Americans, or anybody with an America-to-Europe supply chain…

  • Cooking,  Food,  Kitsnacks,  Recipes

    Kitsnacks: Lemon Curd

    You would think I would know by now not to post “I made this” food stuff without also posting the recipe. :) Someone asked, so here’s my recipe:

    Lemon Curd
    2 egg yolks
    2 whole eggs
    3 oz (6 tbs) butter, room temperature
    1 to 1.5 cups sugar
    the juice of 3 lemons (1/2 to 3/4ths cups lemon juice, depending on the size of the lemons; adjust sugar accordingly)

    Cream butter & sugar until fluffy. Add eggs & egg yolks & mix again. Slowly add lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled when properly mixed. Don’t worry about that.

    Pour mixture into a small sauce pan and heat on low, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted & it looks smooth & satiny. Turn the heat up to medium & cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened. Don’t let it boil, because it will separate.

    An easy way to tell if it’s thickened enough is to dip a wooden spoon in and run your finger down the middle of the back of the spoon. If the liquid seeps back together immediately, it’s not thick enough, but if it leaves a streak that doesn’t fill back in, it is.

    Lick your finger. If it makes your ears bleed, add more sugar by the teaspoon (or so), stirring it in until fully melted each time, until you like the taste better.

    I generally jar mine by boiling Bell jars and lids and proceeding as I would with jam. I also prefer 6oz jars for lemon curd because I’m the only one who eats it in my house and I don’t usually go through a bigger jar before it goes off, but that may not be an issue for everyone. :)

    Unopened jars keep in the cupboard for…quite a while, and opened jars keep for a couple-three weeks in the fridge.

    The recipe makes about 2 cups of lemon curd and scales up well, although I wouldn’t more than triple it, probably.

  • Cooking

    a feast of strawberries

    I was in town yesterday and saw a fruit vendor with 1-kilo flats of strawberries for €5 each, which I thought was an excellent deal. I bought two, came home with them, and went back out not much later to get (other things also, but) four more.

    The young lady at the booth looked at me a bit askance when I came up and asked for four flats. I explained I was making jam, and she said, “Oh! Okay. I was wondering if you maybe had a bit of an addiction.” I said, “I don’t like to talk about it,” and she laughed and said she had a 3 kilo box for €10, and did I want that. I did, so I bought, er, 7 kilos of strawberries yesterday, and hulled them all and froze them in jam-batch-sized portions and very soon now I’ll make them into jam. Except the ones that are going into a strawberry-rhubarb crumble this afternoon.

    We have concluded to our satisfaction that at least one of the apple trees has Brambly apples, which are meant to be good cooking apples. I’ve been pointed at a site on how to make pectin from apples, and we’re going to have so many apples I’m more than a little tempted to give pectin-making a shot, just for the hell of it. I can’t find any recipes online that really seem to use it, but I do have at least two pre-1950 cookbooks, so I should look in those. If I do all of that successfully I’ll post recipes and stuff, as I seem to recall there are quite a few jam-makers reading my blog. :)

    Even if I don’t go the pectin-making route I’m going to have So Many Apples. I’m going to have to freeze zillions of them. I shall regret not having a chest freezer before this is all over, I can tell, but I will persevere with what I’ve got by thinking of apple pie, applesauce, apple muffins, apple bread, apple cobbler, apple crumble, apple fritters, apple eeeeeeeeeverything, all made from apples picked in the back garden. :)

    Now I’m hungry and shall go in search of food. But not apples, because they’re not ripe yet. :)

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