Thursday, January 23, 2014

Adventures in Canning

I was MIA last week, meaning I should have a lot to report on this blog, right? Yes, in fact! I'm on may way to keeping one of my 2014 goals, which is to can/preserve seasonal vegetables once a month.

For the month of January I chose to make Spiced Apple Pear Butter. Apples and winter pears are in season here in DC, so I took a jaunt down to the farmer's market a few weekends ago and bought some:
I started peeling them before I remembered I was going to blog the canning process! At this point I grabbed the camera.

The recipe I chose is about as simple as you can get, which is a good thing since I am just starting out with this canning thing. To help me learn, I bought a book by Ball, the company that makes canning sets (I have a Ball canning set as well). You can find this recipe in Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Before I started canning, I also took a look at the National Center for Home Preservation website. The website provides sanitation guidelines and tips.

Another reason I wanted to start canning is because I now have a food processor:

Once I peeled, seeded, and cored the fruit, I chopped them into cubes. I then cooked them for about 10 minutes, simmering on low heat:

Once I cooked the fruit, I blended the batch in the food processor:

This took literally 10 seconds - I love my food processor!
Once the fruit was mushy, I put the rest of the ingredients, including the all-important pectin (no pectin = no jelly-like substance), in a large bowl:
I mixed the fruit and dry mix together and prepared the cans (thoroughly wash before using the mason jars, by the way):
The funnel came with my canning set, and was essential in pouring the mixture into the jars. I ended up with almost three jars of Spiced Apple Pear Butter:

The final step was to put on the lids - sealed very tight - and let the jars sit at room temperature for about an hour.

After sitting for an hour, I put the the two full jars in the freezer, where they will keep up to a year. The almost-full jar is the one I'm going to eat now, so I put that in the refrigerator. I've had some on toast already and it is quite tasty! And those cute labels? They are also made by Ball, and happen to dissolve when you wash the jars. My plan for the two jars in the freezer are to either eat them myself or give them away as gifts.

Lessons learned:

  • Don't use as much pectin next time. This batch turned out a little too jellied.
  • Use smaller mason jars. That way, I'll have more to gift away! I can't possibly eat this much spread in one year.
Until next month! (Let's just hope I can keep this up once a month!)

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