apple cider

apples…everywhere….

the apple festivities continue! and nothing says “festive” like rounding up a small group of committed bootleggers and making five gallons of cider.

ladies and gentleman, it is now time for the zenith of all the apple-related content lately. the crux. the pièce de résistance. it was the idea of making homemade cider that began the whole downward spiral. it was the impetus behind the huge deluge of apples that were harvested and kept in my kitchen, under counters, spilling out of bags, everywhere. And (when space indoor ran out) in huge tupperware containers that we kept outside the back porch….

using a home-constructed pressing contraption (lovingly made by my good friend john) and a jack that could provide us with 2-tons of pressure for squeezing, we (finally) made an impressive dent in our apple supply.

doesn’t it look like a medieval torture device? scary! but effective! until it started to buckle under the pressure in hour four….

our kitchen became a mad-house, and on one weekday night we managed to make pulp out of the equivalent of about three bushels of apples. that’s dedication, friends. and a touch of madness. our collective efforts amounted to one very full six gallon carboy.

the proof is in the pudding, and so i won’t comment on how the cider turned out until i can actually try it. we pitched ale yeast at about 11 p.m. at night, and in the morning there were definite signs that the yeast was happily thriving. anyone who has said that cider doesn’t make much of a krausen is a dirty liar. note to future kat: leave more room in the carboy.

since this day, apparently the team has made significantly more! seventeen gallons in total! that’s probably lethal. especially given that the fermentation process lasted for close to three weeks… that’s going to be some spicy cider.

happy bootlegging!

xx katty lea

apple jelly

ok. back to the apples! i may have mentioned that we have had a lot of apples on hand as of late.

so. many.

but therein lay many opportunities! i am a very nostalgic person this time of year, and so to capture some of that into little jars…isn’t that romantic?

oh apple jelly! how i adore you! you make scones happier, peanut butter punchier… you make every day just a little brighter.

my MIL-in-spirit is a jelly mastermind, and we mourned the day when our apple jelly ran out. well, withdrawal be gone.

once again, i ventured over to my go-to food preservation resource, the national center for home food preservation, and found their article about making jams and jellies without pectin. i was also inspired heavily by david lebovitz’s apple jelly post, though — and tell me if i’m wrong — his sugar quantities seem lethal! i made an initial batch with about 1/2 cup sugar per cup of apple juice (which is less even than he suggests) and the resulting jelly was saccharine. this leads me to believe that his apples were more robust? somehow?

jelly!

so pretty. i think these will make a really nice gifts. anyone have a birthday coming up?

xx katty lea

sugar free crockpot apple butter

the great apple harvest of 2012 was spirited, to say the least.

though most of these are bound to become cider, i couldn’t help but steal a few to make apple butter. 1- apple butter is pricey, 2- apple butter blows apple sauce out of the water on all counts.

imho, of course.

besides, there’s nothing that says “fall” like making your house smell like apples and cinnamon for days…

without a food mill, i had to rely on labour intensive method involving an old metal sieve, a wooden spoon and a lot of patience. but for apple butter, this is a must. though, i’ve heard that some people throw the applesauce – skins and all – into the blender which i wish i had learned before i spent an hour squishing apples through a sieve.

do you see what i’m saying here?

at any rate, the process of making apple butter is essentially the same as making applesauce, with an extra step:  put the smooth (and skin-free) applesauce into a crockpot and set it on high for three hours with the lid off. this allows the moisture to escape, and the sugars to caramalize just a little bit.

i relied on simply canning’s water bath canning instructions as well as the national centre for home food preservation (including their amazing principals of home canning pdf) to make sure my apple butter was safe, especially because i’ll be handing these puppies out to friends and family.

a few of them, anyway. we really like apple butter.

xx katty lea