Yesterday, I made apple butter. Other than chopping strawberries for a friend as she canned jam, I have never had any real experience canning things. It is something I have always been interested in. I did not have all the "proper" equipment, but with some web searches, improvisation, and determination...I did it!
Yesterday, I realized that I had 5 jars of apple sauce, which were free with coupons, about to expire. I also had several fresh apples that had seen better days. I had a thought..."I wonder how hard it would be to make apple butter and can it?" Well, why not?
I peeled and chopped the fresh apples and put them in the Crock-pot on high for a couple of hours. Once they were soft, I used the immersion blender to puree them. I added the apple sauce from the jars, sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg. I allowed it to cook on high for several hours with the lid slightly to the side to allow the steam to escape. As it cooked down, the house started smelling soooooo good.
While the apple butter was cooking down, I did some web searches to figure out the canning process. I then went on a scavenger hunt in my cabinets. I knew I had jars, rings, and lids of various sizes. I came up with several complete sets. I put the jars in my dishwasher on the heat and sanitation setting. While they were washing away, I started putting together a make-shift rack for the bottom of my pot. One webpage suggested that to make a "rack" you can tie jar rings together. Seven rings and a bunch of square knots later, I had my "rack". It actually fit perfectly in the bottom of the pot that I was using. I brought water to a low simmer and inserted the lids and rings for a nice sanitizing bath. I did have a wide-mouth funnel that had been given to me several years ago. I used it to fill the jars. After filling the jars, I placed a lid and ring on each one. I then started the "processing" of the jars. I boiled them submerged in the water for 15 minutes each. As I removed them from the boiling water, I realized why they suggest to have the right tongs with rubber ends. It became quite obvious that I REALLY needed those. I managed to get all of the jars of apple butter out of the water and onto the counter. It was wonderful to hear them each, one-by-one, "pop". It was so rewarding!
This morning, I opened our first small jar of the apple butter and my husband and I had it on toast as part of our breakfast. I got a thumbs up after his first bite. Now I am inspired. I am now on a quest to find used canning equipment and cheap jars. I am already looking forward to making other things and canning them.