Monday, September 6, 2010

Apple Overload!

On Saturday, the boys and I went apple picking. It was the birthday party activity for one of my best friends' daughter's 5th birthday. There were about 24 kids and almost as many parents. Hubby had to stay behind and do some techy work at the birthday party house but I figured that with all the kids there, my kids would just hang with the others and I could chat with the other parents... but alas... no. The older two took off as soon as they got their baskets, the youngest - Flip - decided to walk away from the party. Finally, with much coaxing (I gave him an apple) he sat down while I filled his basket. Basket was full in 10 minutes flat. Son #2 - Mac - came to join us with an empty basket, he needed mommy's help to pick the apples off the tree. Basket full: 5 minutes. Son #1 - JJ - had a full basket too and after 20 minutes, we were ready to go. But... the apple picking "activity" was for an hour so we had 40 minutes to fill. The other kids were all playing together and the parents were all hanging out, while I was chasing after Flip. Don't get me wrong, running around after my kids is fun, but what you should know is that my Flip is almost 2 and is the size of a 3 1/2 year old. He's heavy to carry and I often have to carry him but too much carrying and out goes my back for 3 days. But I digress... 

We left the orchard with two huge bags full of apples, more then we could count (or at least more then Mac could count). There are enough apples in my kitchen to make a freezer full of crisps and pies and crumble and ... so I posted on Twitter that I needed some apple recipe ideas and sure enough I got a response. Check out this link for apple butter: Can you believe it? Apple butter in the crockpot! Here's the catch: I have never made a preserve. Last year I had every intention to make strawberry jam but chickened out at the last minute and bought the freezer jam pectin. It was still yummy but just not the same. So we arranged a #cancan Tweet-up at my place where my friend and I would get a canning tutorial in exchange for some apple butter. This morning I learned to sterilize my jars, how to fill them and submerge them in the pot of boiling water. I would never have attempted this on my own for the first time. I definitely recommend having someone experienced to teach you the important steps in canning. You could read the step-by-step in a book but you know how it is, a question that needs to be answered right at that very moment would not be addressed, like: "why has my water turned an apple colour?" "Oh! a lid has popped off! That's never happened to me before!" Of course not, because these wacky things only happen to me and everything is always an adventure. No big deal, she takes the jar out and that one gets tossed. Had I been alone with the book and the steps, I'd be looking through the index for Qs & As or tips or I'd be Googling what to do with the rest of the jars... Turns out, it's no big deal! There's no stress in preserving, just make sure everything is very, very clean!  I now have 7 jars of very yummy apple butter all preserved and waiting for the middle of winter to be opened and enjoyed on some toast or maybe mixed in with some plain yogurt. I also have 2 still very full bags of apples and some cider left over so I might just make another batch... but not tonight, cause tonight I have to go to bed early. Back to work tomorrow after 12 great weeks of summer vacation :)

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