At IFBC last month I had what I would classify as an epiphany. When I go to blogger conferences, I never know what I will come home with for inspiration. I don’t go to them for learning really, there is only so many times you can listen in on about “SEO Targeting!”, but rather for the chance I might come home with an idea(s) I cannot turn off. It doesn’t fail me – but I also never know what I direction I will be going.
This year I found it in a class titled “Cooking Backwards: The Art and Science of Local and Seasonal Cooking“. Sounds fancy, right? Not so much! More about a class I almost blew off, but was in rapture. And so was everyone else there – it was about knowing your farmers, your markets, eating the unusual – and buying food and then creating dishes that take that food to the front. Part of the discussion covered what Oxbow Farm has done locally in teaching other. Greta Gardin, Audra Mulkern, and Christina Miller were the speakers.
For someone who sat in that class wearing her “I Eat Local Because I Can” shirt, this was an affirmation class. A high-five that I needed.
There was no chatting in the back of the class. Everyone there was listening. But what it set off in me was immense. I wanted to leave after that class and go home (that is when I know I have found my cause. One time, while backpacking, I had an idea pop in my head – and I cut my trip short, so I could get home. That idea went huge, so I listen!). I didn’t go home….I was a good girl this time – but oh my mind swam that night. I couldn’t focus. I realized that what the ladies speaking had hit home: I didn’t just need to know my farmers and where my food comes from. I needed to grow more of it. I needed to be one of the women they are discussing. I finally have enough land to grow on, and it is sunny enough. It isn’t easy work, I won’t claim it is. But I came home and started plotting out the changes. More on that to come, to say the least! Lets just say Farmeress Sarah has been busy….
I also had a great time talking with the people from Washington State Fruit Commission – with their awesome canning infographics. I love Yakima apples and when I saw a huge box (25 pounds) of freshly picked Apple Crisp ones on Saturday at the farmers market, you know came home with me!
I adapted a recipe out of Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which if you can/preserve, is a bible – from Robert Rose books (who have even more titles on preserving). I used an “extra-light” syrup, meaning it has less sugar. Honey Crisp apples are pretty sweet naturally. If you like a sweeter apple (and have started with a tarter variety), consult your canning guide and make a “Light” syrup.
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- 5½ cups filtered water
- 10 pounds apples
- 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice or Produce Protector
- 7 half sticks cinnamon
- 1¾ tsp ground allspice
Wash canning jars, with bands and new lids, in hot, soapy water. Rinse well, and drain on a clean kitchen towel. Bring a large pot of water to boil, take off stove, add in clean jars and keep covered.
Fill canning pot halfway with water, bring to a near boil, then let simmer.
Peel, quarter and core apples. As you cut each apple, place in a large bowl of water treated with lemon juice or produce protector, to prevent browning.
Heat sugar and water in a large pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Add in drained apples, return to a boil, simmer very gently for 5 minutes, until heated.
Drain jars using tongs, place on a clean kitchen towel. Layer in apples to the top of the jars, then a small amount of hot syrup, gently tap on counter. Stick in a cinnamon stick and sprinkle on ¼ tsp allspice in each jar. Add more apples, if they can fit, then run a sterilized chopstick around the inside of the jar. Top off with more syrup if needed. Leave a ½” headspace.
Dip a clean paper towel in hot water, then run around the top of each jar. Place a lid on each jar, then a band, screw on finger tight.
Turn canner up to high, place jars in water bath rack, lower rack into water. Water should cover by 1 – 2″, if not add a bit more from the other pot that held the jars. Bring to a rolling boil, covered, process pint jars for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, let sit for 5 minutes uncovered, then carefully remove jars, placing on a clean dry kitchen towel to cool.
Once cooled, check again that seals are down (you should hear the Ping! as each one seals). Gently remove bands (wash, dry and store for your next project. While they look nicer on, if they have water inside from processing, they can rust. If you are giving away your canned items, you can always slip one back on), note on jar or lid what is in jar with a date. Store in a dry/cool/dark area and use within a year.
As always, if you ever go to use a canned item and the lid is not sealed anymore, or bulging, discard it immediately!!!!!! (I have only ever lost one jar in all my canning, so don’t fret!)
Makes about 7 pints.
Should you have more hot apples left over than jars, well, don’t worry. They are tasty for eating under ice cream, or with yogurt, or on top of oatmeal. Just drain and store in the refrigerator for up to a few days. Also, if you haven’t read Ball’s new guidelines on canning lids and rings, be sure to check it out!