apple butter

Apple Cider Vinegar Made from Scraps of Home Made Apple Sauce.

Apple sauce, apple butter, apple jelly and apple cider vinegar are things I try to make for my family every fall. I try very hard to forage my apples to use in these recipes. I hate to see one of my friends let a tree full of healthy organic apples go to waste. So every summer I start looking around at who has apples that they do not use and try to remember to ask them if I can have them. This summer I was a little unsure of where I was going to get my apples. We moved and I did know to many people who had apple trees in our new area. I remembered a huge apple tree at my favorite public library. Why not ask the librarian of the Lewis Bennett Library  what they were going to do with some of the apples…. it couldn’t hurt to ask right?

So after asking the  head Librarian Karen about the apples, she said no one had asked for the apples and most of the time the apples just fell and made a huge mess on the library side-walk. She let me have as many of the apples as I wanted. The tree is well over 100 years old and they do nothing to maintain the tree so they are again chemical free, of unknown species and cost me nothing, a perfect fit for my foraging personality.

front of Louis Bennett Library

front of Louis Bennett Library the tree is in the right of this photo three stories tall and full of apples

So after a couple of hours with my apple picker in the yard of this historical mansion I had filled my buckets with about 70 pounds of a soft yellow-green apples.

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

one 18 gallon tub and one 8 gallon wash tub full of apples about 70 pounds

Most people call these deer apples and never plan to use them at home but let the deer enjoy them.Today I was able to make 6 quarts of apple sauce from 8 pounds of these little apples.( I have a DIY post about how to make  Home Made Apple Sauce here) They made a very nice sweet apple sauce so I am guessing they are a golden delicious type of apple developed in Clay County West Virginia around the time the house was built.

Quarts of home made cinnamon apple sauce

Quarts of home-made cinnamon apple sauce

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

collecting apple peals into bowl for vinegar making

To make Apple Cider Vinegar I took the peals and cores from these apples and split them between two gallon containers. I left enough room at the top to let water stand over the top of the cores and peals. The apples will begin to ferment under the water’s surface but Some mold may grow if a peal is sticking up to high.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Apple peals and cores in plastic gallon jars.

Next I added 2 and 1/2 quarts of warm water that I had added 2 1/2 heaping tables spoons of white sugar to each jar. Making a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to water. The sugar helps feed the Bactria to get a good start to the fermentation. It also adds a sweetness to the vinegar. I use most of my vinegar for cooking so I want a strong apple flavor without much sweetness. If I was drinking this everyday I would add more sugar to make to flavor more drinkable. One recipe I read had 1/2 cup of sugar per gallon. It is not necessary to use this much sugar, apples ferment quickly! Apples have a lot of  natural sugars and yeasts that ferment so well it is hard to stop raw apple juice from turning to wine and vinegar in a matter of days with out a chemical to stop the fermentation. Believe me no sugar is really needed to ferment apples, we have had a few drunk cows on the farm from eating rotten apples in the pasture,what a funny sight !

Quart jar and sugar bowel

Quart jar and sugar bowel

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

I added a weight to apple scraps to hold them under the water

Here I am trying to keep the apples under the water surface with a small bowel to prevent mold or scum from growing around the top of the jar. I then cover the jars with cloth to prevent bugs or dust from getting into the jars. I store my jars in our laundry room. Where the temp in the summer is more constant much like a cellar. It never freezes but is never as hot as the house on a hot summer day. The best fermentation happens between 60 and 80 degrees F.

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple peals and cores ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Two gallons of apple scraps on shelf ready to ferment

Now I wait two weeks to strain out the apple cores and peels. The fermentation will actually take several weeks and the smell of vinegar will increase as the amount of sugar decreases. At about 4 weeks the sugar should be eaten up by the bacteria that converts the sugar to alcohol than into vinegar. At this time you can filter the vinegar to make it look clear or rack it just like wine. I will filter mine with cheese cloth just to remove the large pieces of apple and return the vinegar back to the shelf for two more weeks to make sure that all the fermentation is finished at 6 weeks. If by chance you notice that the apple cider vinegar has a slimy pad floating in it (smile really big)… you have grown a “Mother” or “Scoby” that should be removed and  stored to make the next batch of ACV ( apple cider vinegar) and reduce the time for fermentation to about 4 weeks on another batch.

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

Apple Cider Vinegar MOTHER

The raw ACV can at this point be bottled and kept in the refrigerator and it will be good up to 1 year. My family goes through about 1 gallon in a year so this is the amount I try to make. If you want to keep it on the shelf for easy storage then the you need to cook and bottle the ACV. The cooking process does two things. It will kill the good Bactria growing in the ACV ( pasteurizing the ACV)  but will also stabilizes it so that you can store it almost indefinitely. ACV is processed like any other canned food with sterile bottles or jars and correct processing times.

So if you are a fan of raw apple cider vinegar you can make this for pennies. I think the most expensive part would be to get containers. Most families do not use as much vinegar as we do so with just an old spaghetti sauce jar ( 1 quart size) and 3 apples you could make enough ACV for at least 6 months. It is just another way to make some thing from free healthy foraged food.

So when I finally get the 18 quarts of apple sauce finished, the 8 pints of apple butter, the 10 jelly pints of apple jelly, and the gallon of apple cider vinegar finished in 6 weeks, I will feel like I stocked my pantry well from these free ugly old deer apples that no one wanted! Here at links to my post on Slow Cooker Apple Butter and Apple Jelly they are also made with free apples and made much like this with a two for one process.

Categories: apple butter, apple cider vinger, apple sauce, Apples, fermentation, Foraging, Lewis Bennett Library, organic food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Apple Cider Jelly and Apple Butter from One Batch of Apples

aplle cider jelly my best jelly so far

half pints of apple jelly

  This summer I was so fortunate to receive a gift of about 60 pounds of apples from a neighbors tree. I made several things from the free organic apples, pies, apple sauce,  jelly and apple butter. The nice thing was that with the raw apples I could make both apple jelly and apple butter out of the same apples. A two for one deal. I was happy when I realised that all I needed was apple pulp for the apple butter and just the juice for the jelly and they could be worked back to back. If I could just get a whole day to do it all.

fresh picked apples

fresh picked apples

  I though about what I needed to do to combine the recipes for both the apple jelly and apple butter. I needed to make a juice or cider then  I could make apple butter as soon as I was able to get the apple pulp through the food mill and into the slow cookers. I did use two slow cookers for this batch  of apple butter each holding about 2 1/2 quarts of apple pulp.

  The process is a simple and easy one. I cut up unpeeled small apples into quarters. The ones I used for the apple jelly/butter  were smaller than the ones for apple sauce and pies. I placed the apples on the stove with about a 3/4 full  pot full of water (about 4 quarts of water). Cooking the apples down to a sauce took about 20 minutes. This time I wanted the skins and peals still on as I cooked the apples down. The natural pectin in the apple skins would help the jelly set up later in the process.

small quartered apples in stock pot with water

small quartered apples in stock pot with water

   Once it appears that the apples had cooked down I strained the chunky sauce through two sheets of cheese cloth in a strainer to remove the majority of the juice. Once cooled, I pressed the juice out into a bowl.

Apple pulp, sauce in strainer with cheese cloth

Apple pulp, in strainer with cheese cloth

Pressing apple sauce to get remaining juice

Pressing apple sauce to get remaining juice

  I poured the juice into half-gallon jars to let the juice separate a little more so the jelly would be clear from using only a juice with no pulp. I let it rest over night to make the jelly in the morning. The remaining thick  pulp is slowly processed through the Foodmill when cool.

unfiltered apple juice

unfiltered apple juice

  Then I run the remaining plup through the food mill to remove the peals, seeds and lumps.

food mill over pot ready for apples

food mill over pot ready for apples

without the apple peals the sauce should look like this

very thick apple sauce ready to turn to apple butter

very thick apple sauce ready to turn to apple butter

   I then moved the thick sauce to two slow cookers added the sugar and some spices and  covered  the mixture and let cook on low for around 18 hours stirring every 4 or 5 hours.Near the end of the 12th hour I add more spices and sugar to gain a sweeter,stronger flavor. Taste testing and thickness testing is good at about 12 hours.

two slow cookers 1/2 full of apple butter ingredants

two slow cookers 1/2 full of apple butter ingredients

   While the apple butter cooked all night and some of the next morning, I had time to clarify the apple juice. I slowly poured the juice off the top of the jars and then restrained the pulp at the bottom with 4 sheets of cheese cloth. This really cleans the juice if done slowly to remove as much of the pulp as possible. I washed out my cheese cloth between jars of juice to clear away any clogging apple bits.When I was finish straining I poured the clear juice into a stock pot to make the jelly. Measuring out 5 cups of juice at a time.

1 gallon fresh apple juice on stove ready to turn to jelly

1 gallon fresh apple juice on stove ready to turn to jelly

    As with any jelly, jam or butter you need clean sterile jars, lids and rings. I was boiling them about the same time I was pouring the juice through the cheese cloth that way they were  freshly sterile and warm when the jelly was ready to ladle into the jars.

     The idea for this jelly came from my childhood. My aunt often invited my mother, brother and I over for at least one holiday dinner every year. Often it was Easter dinner and as I was so little she always offered me apple cider  to drink instead of the wine that the adults drank during Easter. I loved the warm drink , she would serve her cider in a white teacup with a slice of orange in the bottom and a Cinnamon stick tipping out the top of the cup. I drank more than my fair share of the cider and wanted to make something that tasted like what I remembered as a kid and this is what I came up with.

Following the basic instructions for an apple jelly recipe in the Sure Jell box you will need.

5 cups apple juice

2 table spoons strained orange juice or lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

7 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon butter or margarine

1 pack liquid Pectin

1. measure correct amount of juice into sauce pot. Add 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine to reduce foaming if desired.

2. stir sugar into fruit juice bring mixture to a full rolling boil( a boil that does not go down when stirred)  over high heat.

3. Add liquid pectin quickly. Return to full boil and boil for one minute exactly stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle  into prepared jars. leaving 1/8 inch head space. skimming tops of jars with wooden spoon to remove foam.

4. Wipe jars, add lids and rings place in a boiling water bath canner, adding enough water to cover jars with one to two inches of water. Bring to a gentil boil and process for five minutes. Remove to cool on clean towels and listen for the lids to pop and seal as cooling. Some jelly takes time to set up.. apple is not usually one of these as the natural pectin and the Sure Jell make this a firm fast setting jelly with a gold color and tiny spices mixed though out.

Apple jelly in jars

Apple jelly in jars

 Then as the jelly cooled I took time to look over the apple butter again. The  teaspoon test is the best way to see if you apple butter is thick enough to put in the jars. When you think the color and thickness is getting where you have reduced the apple sauce mixture about one inch inside the crock pot take a teaspoon and scoop out a small amount of the apple butter and turn the spoon side ways and see how much juice seeps out of the sauce. Ideally their will be almost no juice leaking out of the apple butter.It should be a dark almost chestnut-brown color and very thick much to thick for apple sauce. I adjust the spices and sugar about the time the juice is about gone  to make sure the flavors have time to blend together.Usually a couple of hours before I stop simmering the apple butter.

finished slow cooker apple butter

finished slow cooker apple butter

Slow Cooker Apple Butter made from Apple Sauce.

1. 4 quarts apple sauce in a 5 quart slow cooker or 2 slow cookers with apples split between them.

2. 4 cups sugar split, three cups at beginning of cooking the other added if needed at the end of cooking.

3. 1 tablespoon cinnamon

4. 1/4  teaspoon cloves

5. 1  teaspoon allspice

Mix together and cook on low for about 16 to 18 hours if using one slow cooker, about 9 in two slow cookers. Ladle into clean sterile jars leveling about 1/8 inch head space. Wipe jar lip and cover with lids and rings. Cover jars with two inches of water and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. Remove jars to cool and check seals and enjoy.

finished jars of apple butter 2013

finished jars of apple butter 2013

  This project turned into one of the best ways I can think of to use up a large buckets of smaller apples. With a 8 quart stock pot full of cut apples I ended up with about 9 half pints of cider jelly and about 5 pints of apple butter. I repeated this process twice and had enough jelly and apple butter to give out as holiday gifts this year and still have a few for our family until the next crop of apples appears. 

  Thanks to my lovely Aunt Marjorie Snyder and her love of making jams, jellies and serving me the best apple cider ever!

Categories: apple butter, apple cider jelly, apple sauce, cooking, Jelly, organic foods, Preserving | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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