Last weekend Kirk and I took the boys up to Whidbey Island for the kite festival held yearly. Well….the festival was a disappointment this year. The wind was flat. Almost none. You need wind for a good show. Ah well. We still had fun, the festival is held next to Ft. Casey State Park, right on the water. The boys were happy, who doesn’t love being near the open water? And my brother met up with us (he still lives on the island), so the boys were extra happy.
Sit here for a few minutes and you will see the ferry crossing the Strait to Port Townsend -
It was an easy bump to the beach, Alistaire hanging out, having lunch -
Looking up the island, towards Ebey’s Landing, all along West Beach -
Me, with Port Townsend behind me, and if it hadn’t been cloudy, the Olympic Mountains – and ooh! my new jeans that are a size smaller!!
The beaches are not what most think of as beaches, but I’d not trade them for sand….to me the beach should be rocks, sea whips and driftwood – and the water shouldn’t be warm. I lived on Whidbey for 13 or so years and I miss the water a lot.
Ford had a lot of fun running around on the bluffs, checking out parts of the old fort -
Walker and Daddy, in one of the old gun placements -
Then Ford found a part of the fort I had never seen, and I have been all over it – as a kid and as an adult. It was a neat section, a tiny one, Walker’s size!
Walker checking the tiny room out -
The wild roses had gone to rose hips, thousands of them, lining the bluffs. The roses are something I love. I found Salmon Berries as well. After that, we had lunch at the van and then all of us drove over to my Aunt Vikki’s place. I had forgotten she has apple trees lining her road. And they were loaded! She also had one part of her property boasting a lovely patch of native Pacific Blackberries. Of which Walker ran right up to and started picking, He ate till he was full and waddled off, covered in purple streaks, to go play with my brother and Vikki’s dogs – of which he truly loved her new 9 week old Irish Setter. He went crazy over that puppy!
The blackberries with Rose Hips intermingling. We picked quite a few, I froze them till later, when I have time to make jelly. That will be coming soon.
The apple trees have grown for a number of years now, big crisp apples, some even seedless. After filling two bags and barely denting the trees……
It was time to make apple butter. The best way of all I have decided – in the slow cooker. No fuss, no mess. I hope to never make fruit butter on a stove top again! If anything stands out most in going unprocessed is that I am using the kitchen tools Kirk bought me more and more. I used the slow cooker maybe twice in all our married years till this year. I find I use it for all sorts of projects now and apple butter is a great use. No splattering, no worrying about scorching and it cooked while I slept. It was the most enjoyable canning session I have had. I woke up and had everything done by 9 am!
Apple Maple Butter
- 7 pounds apples, preferably natural/feral or organically grown
- 1¼ cups pure maple syrup
- 6 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 2 large)
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Peel, core and chop the apples. Add the apples to a 4 quart slow cooker, add the remaining ingredients, stir to coat. Cover and set on high for an hour, turn to low and let cook for 12 hours.
Take off the lid, stir and purée with an immersion blender (be careful – it will be VERY hot). Turn to low and cook uncovered for another 2 to 3 hours, stirring often, until thick. Taste for sweetener, adding more if desired (your apples will determine if you need more).
You will need 8 Half-Pint canning jars with rings and new lids (or your favorite combination of sizes), a large stockpot/pasta pot for sterilizing the jars, a canning pot with rack (I use a Granite Ware 706-2 11.5-Quart Covered Preserving Canner with Rack), a canning funnel and tongs. It helps to have clean kitchen towels and paper towels on hand as well.
Wash and rinse the jars; put them into a big stockpot; cover the jars with water and bring to a boil; turn off the heat. Let stand in hot water until you are ready to fill.
Wash the bands and lids, bring a saucepan of water to boil, add them let sit until you are ready to screw them on the jars. (Use new lids each time, bands can be reused.)
Fill the canning pot halfway with water, hang the canning rack on the sides and start heating the water over medium. When you are ready to fill the jars, turn up to high.
Grab a jar with tongs, empty the water out of your jars, fill to ¼” of the top (a sterilized canning funnel works great). Wipe the rims with a new damp paper towel, removing any spilled butter, especially on the rim.
Place a lid on top and tighten a band around each jar, place them into the canning pot, using the canning rack to lower in. Make sure all jars are upright and that jars are fully submerged, with at least 2″ of water above. If not, add some of the hot water out of the pot that held the jars. Cover the pot and bring to boil.
Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Turn off the heat, take out carefully using a jar lifter or tongs. Have a clean kitchen towel on the counter, place each jar on it and let cool for at least 6 hours, overnight is better. Listen for the “popping sound” and keep track of how many times you hear it. Check after cooling that the lid is firm when pressed on, if it pops up and down, it isn’t sealed. If that happens, refrigerate that jar and use within a couple of weeks.
Once cooled, store the jars in a pantry for up to 12 months. Once opened, store in the refrigerator and use up within 3 to 4 weeks.
PS: To my Aunt, I have saved you a jar!