In addition to all the applesauce I created last weekend, I tried my hand at some strawberry jam. I selected a recipe that used apples as well as strawberries, and a bit of lemon (and lemon seeds). Here’s a link to the blog post where I found the strawberry jam recipe: “Through My Kitchen Window: Strawberry and Apple Jam.” I doubled the recipe, but should have refrained from doubling the water. It took hours to reduce the strawberries, apples and water down to the proper jam consistency. I also added a bit of low-sugar/no-sugar pectin, when I began to wander if the jam would ever, well, jam. An entire afternoon spent babysitting the stockpot resulted in four half-pints of strawberry jam. I guess I’ll find out later if all the effort was worth it.
Unlike the previous two Saturdays, I didn’t immediately jump out of bed yesterday and begin peeling, coring and slicing apples. Instead, I threw myself into de-junking our garage. My husband snagged some new(er) garage doors this week, rescuing them from death row and a permanent burial at the local dump. Compared to our existing garage doors, they look nearly brand new. With the time-table on the garage door project drastically moved up (we had planned to buy new garage doors next year, probably during the summer), we needed the front half of the garage cleared out. Terry scheduled the installation for next weekend, and before then he needs to paint the doors to match our trim color.
I gingerly opened the southern side garage door, hoping it would hold together well enough to roll up and not fall on my head. I needed that door open so I could get to twelve years worth of accumulated junk, some of which had not been seen or touched since we moved into this house in February 1999. I set my camera up under my large oak tree in the front yard so I could take some time lapse photos of this endeavor (click photo below for slideshow):
After spending all day on my feet, to the tune of over 15,000 steps (according to my pocket pedometer, which I accidentally reset by bending over and lifting too much), I decided I needed to stand around some more, this time in a dark field gazing up at the stars and planets. I even invited my dad to come along for the ride to Powell Observatory (more on that outing in an upcoming post).
I laid my head on my pillow some time during the one o’clock in the morning hour. I did first warm myself up in the hot tub with Terry. I wanted to be able to feel my fingers and toes again before I fell asleep. My back and knees thanked me, at least while I stayed in the hot water.
Sunrise brought stiffness and soreness. I took it easy, brewing some Irish Blend tea to help wake up my brain. Terry had been up all night, visiting the hot tub two more times thanks to his back. Since he was up, I whipped up some sausage gravy and biscuits for breakfast. He attempted to watch the Singapore Grand Prix race, but soon succumbed to a food coma and retired upstairs to sleep it off.
With Terry upstairs, I could move freely about the kitchen without worrying about making too much noise (and waking him up). I began peeling, coring and slicing all the apples I had in the kitchen. I filled my stockpot up about halfway when I ran out of already picked apples. I grabbed my large basket and went out to forage for fresh apples. I came back in with a full basket and selected eight or ten large good ones. I set those aside to be used in the second apple pie of the harvest.
I prepared another dozen or two apples and filled the stockpot up nearly to the top. I moved it from the front right burner to the back left burner, so I could put the water bath canner on the large front burner. I selected nine pint jars and placed them in the canner. I began filling the pints with distilled water and then continued filling the canner with distilled water until all the jars were immersed and covered with at least an inch of water. I turned the burner up to medium high heat to begin the long process of heating the water and jars to nearly boiling temperature.
I let the stockpot simmer for a half hour or more, taking the chance to relax, read part of a book and write a blog post. I transferred hot mushy apples to the glass blender jar and pureed them four cups at a time. When I reached the bottom of the stockpot I had nearly twenty cups of applesauce. Success! I had enough to fill all nine pint jars in the canner! I returned the applesauce to the stockpot. I squeezed a fresh lemon and added the juice to the stockpot.
I planned to spice up this batch of applesauce for my kids. Derek and Rachelle both love cinnamon apple sauce. I began with two tablespoons of cinnamon. After I stirred in the spice, I tasted it, but couldn’t really taste anything different. I took a spoonful to Terry and he agreed I should add more cinnamon. I added another tablespoon and tasted again. I got a hint of cinnamon. I took Terry another taste. He thought there was enough spice. I added a half cup of sugar and tasted again. There, I could taste the cinnamon with the aid of the sugar.
I processed all the pints in the canner, filling them as recommended, leaving a half-inch of head space. I cranked up the heat to high and put a timer on for ten minutes. When the alert sounded, I checked the canner’s interior to confirm a roiling boil, then added another ten minutes to the timer. At the next beep, I turned off the burner and removed the canner from the heat source, leaving the lid off to help cool down the contents gently. I came back an hour or so later and placed the jars on the rack to cool overnight.
This week I plan to make at least one apple pie (the second one of the harvest season) and more apple butter. I only have four pint jars left, but several half-pints are waiting to be filled with either butter or chutney. My daughter called to let me know she tried the chutney with some pork and loved it.
The apple tree still has plenty of apples ripening on it’s limbs. I’ll keep picking them until the tree is bare. Unless I buy another dozen pint jars, though, I’m probably done making applesauce this harvest.