Sunday, September 18, 2005

Harvest Time

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Yesterday was Spaghetti Sauce day here. The house still smells of onions!
I feel like I'm all canned out. I can not imagine doing this on a wood fired stove.

So many kind people have given us produce this year. After the news of our groundhog trouble (they have eaten everything in the garden! Even the garlic.) got around, people started showing up with bushels of stuff. I have put up more produce this year than I have ever done before. And it keeps coming. Even though I have put up 20 quarts of red and yellow tomatoes, my MIL dropped off another bushel and a half of Roma tomatoes yesterday morning. Hence the spaghetti sauce.

The thing with fresh picked produce is that it must be dealt with immediately, and when someone shows up with a surprise bounty, you have to drop everything and preserve it right now, or lose it, which can sometimes be a burden. My mother just tells me to toss it, as the gifters would be none-the-wiser, but I can not throw away so much good food. I just can't do it! So, I find myself standing over pots of boiling water at 2AM, finishing up yet another bountiful gift. I'm tired but happy, and the sparkling jars of food look so pretty! (Is it a sign of sleep-deprivation that I find spaghetti sauce pretty?)

I must also come clean on the new bushel and a half of tomatoes. I myself gifted most of them out to my Grandma. I kept enough for five quarts of sauce, and that was all that I could face, lol! Funny thing is, Grandma was so happy to have them. She and my aunt spent the day puttering around the kitchen, canning them up. In fact, they both wished for more to do up at the end of the day, because they had so much fun canning. Do I smell a surplus produce outlet?

I really do love the feeling that I get at the end of the harvest season, when all of my shining jars are lined up in neat rows on the shelves. And actually, I love to can, just like my Grandma. The only downside is that I usually do it alone, and it is the kind of work that is much more fun and goes a lot faster with two or three other mouths and pairs of hands along. Maybe I should start a local canning group!


Also, I wanted to include my* Crock Pot Apple Butter recipe. My lovely friend, thicketdweller requested it, so I thought I would just share it with you all!

Crock Pot Apple Butter

A note about the applesauce. If you are lucky enough to have your own apples, by all means use them. They will make for a nice thick apple butter. But I will tell you that I get just as good results with store bought, unsweetened applesauce from a jar. It is a real time saver, especially if you are giving it away as gifts!

7 cups applesauce, natural
2 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves,
1/2 tsp allspice

Put everything in a large crock pot and cook for 14 to 15 hours, stirring occasionally, until it is dark and thick. Put in hot, sterilized pint jars, seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool for 24 hours.

yields 4 pints

One more thing, and some people will probably drop dead of botulism fear when they hear this, but I usually don't process this recipe in a water bath. I find that if I wash my jars and put them to heat in a 225 degree oven, pulling out one jar at a time as I fill it, they seal just fine. Frankly, this stuff has been cooking for more than half a day, and as long as you have hot, clean, sterilized jars, there really isn't any danger. In fact, I use this method for my tomatoes also. But just to be safe, especially if you are new to the whole canning process, check you specs when it comes to individual foods and their processing times. A great resource is "The Ball Blue Book" or you local county extension office (and yes, they even have these in cities!). I really don't want anyone to suffer a horrible death just because I'm flippant about the rules of canning, lol!


* I use the term "my" very loosely. I did not make up this recipe, it is just the one that I use. I, in fact, can not remember where I got it. So, this will have to be my disclaimer.


Erin said...

Shannon, I have to tell you that you are very inspiring.

The things you do about your house are what I've always dreamed about. And for you, it's an everyday occurance! I wish I had the talent or know-how you do. :)

Oh, and thanks for posting the Apple Butter recipe. My mouth has been watering since you mentioned it, but I was afraid of being pushy to ask about it. It sounds like something even I could do!

Enjoy all your lovely canned items!

impromptu-mom said...

Thank you for the lovely compliments!

You give me too much credit though.
Let me assure you that our home is no showplace. Most days I barely manage to function,as my husband will attest, lol! Most of the things that I get done, I owe to chronic insomnia, and a penchant for over-doing!

thicket dweller said...

Shannon, you can come over here and can ANY day. As a matter of fact, I have Amish neighbors who are still trying to get rid of tomatoes, so if you want to come and teach me how to do spaghetti sauce, we can both putter around my kitchen.

If you don't mind, would you please share how to make applesauce if you have apples that are in danger of falling to the ground and rotting?

I am in the process of making my first batch of ketchup using a Victoria Strainer I borrowed from a friend. It was a messy job, but I, too, like the look of the paste I've made. :-)

Fe said...

I'm with Erin in saying thanks for the Apple Butter recipe:-) I'd never heard of it before, but your mention of it caught my attention. I didn't want to just ask for it, out of the blue like that:-) But seeing as you've posted it, I'm quite keen to try it;-)

Just wondering though, it starts with apple sauce... Food related things often require translation... Is this the same as stewed apple?

Thanks again...

Happy Housewife said...

HH, you are amazing! I love the way you laugh off the entire canning effort. It is no joke AT ALL!

The last time I saw anyone can anything was when my grandmom used to go to the local club to preserve some pineapples and grapes... or when mom used to make a treat out of stuff that would have positively rotted in two more days! :-) It was a joke in our family that if mom is canning something, something must be about to rot! :-))

{ And for those who are 'bacterio-phobic', I am as hale and hearty as can be... preserved overripe fruits apparently aren't quite so unhealthy, eh? }

I've never done it though... but it'd be fun to see you do it. If I ever travelled past Northern Ohio, I'd love to stop by and watch you do your 'steaming over the pot' from a distance... from a distance that I can see you, but you won't realise that you are being watched! heh heh. :-) How I wish I could have been your neighbour!

Peanut, baby, you've got probably one of the nicest moms! I hope you realise it some day...


impromptu-mom said...


Never hesitate to ask for any recipe that I mention. I'm glad to share! Just don't get your hopes to high, I'm no gourmet. :)

As far as the apples go, pretty much any type of apple can be used. You just want to look for two things:

texture- the finished product is very smooth and spreadable, like lemon curd. The less chunks to start with, the less work you have to do.

contents- It's best to use just apples with no added sugar or starches. They'll just burn before you are done cooking. Look for apple products that say "unsweetened" or "natural".

Hope this helps!

Fe said...

I was just coming back to ask, 'and what is it _used_ for?' Is it a spread like jam? Or is it used on cakes and things like lemon butter?

So I can just start with apple stewed with just a bit of water until it's properly soft? Our range of tinned fruit is pretty much chunks of fruit in either syrup or natural juice. I've never seen tinned applesauce:-) I haven't looked particularly, but friends who've lived in the US generally comment that there is less of a range of processed stuff here.

Fe (planning to borrow my mum's crockpot and giving it a go:-) )

impromptu-mom said...


Sounds like that should work! But there really is no need to add any extra water. Just dump everything from the recipe in as is and mash up the apple chunks as they cook. Trust me, after 15 hours, everything will be mush :)

As to what it's used for. Most people around here eat it like jam or preserves on their toast or biscuits. Although my grandma has a recipe for pork roast that uses apple butter in the glaze, and my hubby eats it mixed with cottage cheese. Use your imagination!

Fe said...

One more question!

I know there are some variations on what is called apple cider in various parts of the world.

The apple cider in this recipe... is it flat or sparkling?
Is it alcoholic or non-alcoholic (and if so, what sort of percentage)?

I'm about ready to have a go at making it:-)

Take care.

impromptu-mom said...


The cider used here is just the jucie that results from pressed apples. Nothing added or taken away. I use unpasturized, as I think it has a deeper flavor, but unless you live near a heavy apple-producing area that has lots of small local presses, you will probably only find pasturized. Apple juice, plain old bottles from the store, will also work here, just look for unsweetened or "natural". any extra sugar will burn.

As a side note, our apple cider does turn alcholic or "hard" if kept for too long. In fact, I have an aunt that accidentaly got the local minister drunk by giving him too much, too old cider, lol!