Apples, apples, everywhere

I worked Saturday morning, but was done by 12:30pm, whoo hooo!  I left work and drove straight to the farm stand.  I picked up a half bushel of Cortland apples and five gallons of apple cider.

I turned the apples into maple apple jam and an apple crisp.

It is so hard for me to believe that I have only done strawberry jam and now maple apple jam.  Usually by this time of year, I have at least 10 different varieties of jam, nicely labeled and sitting in my office ready to give away at Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas presents, I decided to brew hard cider again this year.   I took the five gallons of unpasteurized, freshly pressed cider from the farm stand, poured it into a five gallon food grade bucket and added a little bit of brown sugar.  Once the sugar measured 16 brix on the scale, I added the yeast and topped the container with a lid.

hard-cider-brewing

I will need to check the sugar level each day, until it reaches 2 brix.  Once that occurs, the cider is done fermenting and can be transferred to another container where it will sit until the cider clears and I can then bottle it.  For those impatience folks out there, yes, there is a product you can use to clear the cider and bottle it immediately, but it is made from shellfish so I can’t use it.  I just have to do it the old fashioned way and wait.  I did put a sign on the container, the last thing I need is five gallons of sticky sweet apple cider to be spilled in my kitchen!

Sourdough Biscuits

I love using my sour dough starter for bread, pancakes, pizza dough…you name it!  This is the first time I have used it to make biscuits and let me tell you what….I enjoyed them just as much as the buttermilk ones I make.  They were delicious.  The best news, you use unfeed starter for these babies, so you can make them anytime, you don’t have to feed the starter, then wait eight hours for it to reach it’s optimal state of readiness.

It was a simple recipe, the starter, flour, some salt, a little water…easy peasy.  You are supposed to cut them out with a biscuit cutter, but I just rolled the dough out into a circle and cut them into wedges.

biscuit

I served them warm from the oven, slathered with salted butter and home made strawberry jam…YUM!

Maple Apple Jam

Last weekend I picked up a half bushel of apples.  I had plans to spend my Sunday making jam, apple butter, and possibly an apple pie.  The best laid plans of mice and men…..unfortunately, it didn’t happen the way I planned it and I was left with a boatload of apples taking residence in my kitchen.  I had to work this weekend and I was so afraid I wouldn’t be able to use up the apples but luck was on my side. Friday afternoon I peeled a bunch of the apples and put them in my slow cooker on low.  Twenty four hours later, I had a no sugar added apple butter all ready to go.  I make this for my friend who is a diabetic and she loves it. She puts it on her breakfast bars in the morning and so far, it hasn’t been an issue with her blood sugar.

That left me with a lot of apples still to use.  I found a recipe years ago for Maple Apple Jam that is amazing on pancakes and I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of the apples.

It calls for finely chopping 18 apples per batch.  It is a lot of peeling and cutting, but in the end it is totally worth it.   This recipe doesn’t use any pectin, just apples, spices, maple syrup and sugar.   You cook the entire thing down until it  has a jam like consistency and ladle it into sterilize jars.

maple apple jam finished jam

I made 18 jars of canned jam. I can’t wait to make waffles on Black Friday and smear them with maple apple jam!

Black Raspberries

As I mentioned, my niece just moved to a house closer to us.  I am really excited, it is so nice to have them in the area and the property she purchased had a grape arbor, tons of fruit trees and a boatload of black raspberry bushes.   She called me up and asked if I wanted to come over and pick berries.  I was thrilled.   Black raspberries are so expensive, having the ability to pick my fill and only paying in sweat equity was awesome.

black raspberries

I still had the quart containers and flat box from the strawberries I purchased last week so I used that to as my container.  This way I knew how much I was picking and could get a nice estimate on how many recipes I could make.   I wanted to add at least two quarts to the bachelor’s jam I have going in the basement fridge and I wanted to make a few batches of jam, if possible.   I picked, with help from her and her four children, six quarts of berries.

I came home, washed to of the quarts, tossed them with sugar and added them to the bachelor’s jam.  I can’t wait until Christmas – I really, really hope it turns out as good as I hope!

With the rest of the berries, I was able to make two batches of jam.   I started by washing, crushing, and deseeding the berries.  Most recipes tell you to remove half the seeds, but I really like removing all of them.  I use the jam in cooking more than any of the other flavors, and it just makes sense to have it without seeds.

I have been invited back to pick more berries, thank goodness, because I want to make a few batches of mixed berry jam (black raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries) next weekend.  Hopefully I can get two batches of mixed berry done along with a batch or two of sour cherry.  Wish me luck!