What did I make, you may wonder. Well, let me tell you. It has to do with these shots, taken during our visit to Homestead Farm two weekends ago:
Our host tells us what's up... respect the fruit. We always respect the fruit.
The apples we picked -- about 20 - 25 of the Gala and Cameo varieties, were HUGE - nearly twice the size of the typical grocery store kind. I am obviously all about them, as you see below.
In addition to acres of apples, the farm also includes a pumpkin patch - pretty irresistible this time of year. Our friend Ryan demonstrates how Mr. Potato Head has been replaced by a much larger piece of produce - MUCH larger.
If apples aren't your deal, you can always fill up on some excellent produce available at the farm stand - two of these brightly-hued eggplants made it back home with us and made for tasty Italian and curried meals this past week.
After snacking on the apples for a week or so now, I knew they were bound for better things - sweeter things, perhaps? As we're pretty set on doing as we did last year and making all of our Christmas presents, I imagine several people on our list might enjoy receiving such things as
Apple Butter and Apple Pie Jam.
The apple butter recipe is one I used last year that I found via Google search. It's pretty simple - all but the apples' cores and seeds goes into a pot, boils down, receives copious amounts of sugar and spice (and everything nice, as indicated in the recipe. Seriously.), and gets boiled down further. Then, you process the stuff in hot jars for 10 minutes. Easy breezy, and yes, absolutely beautiful.
The Apple Pie Jam - man, does that sounds amazing, or what????? - is a little different. The apples must be peeled, which is kind of a b-i-t-c-h, cored, and minced, and gelling pectin is used - which was my virgin application of this grainy stuff from a box. It worked out well, as I can tip the jars over and the jam stays put - kind of like the Dairy Queen Blizzard ads, only not.
I found this recipe via the wonderful Mrs.Wheelbarrow's Kitchen - she's the canning queen of the District of Columbia recently featured on NPR's Morning Edition. I will brag a little as I knew about her blog before she hit the public radio airwaves, and I love that her recipes are clear and easy to follow, not to mention mouthwateringly luscious. I can't wait to gift myself and Scott a half-pint of this jam! Christmas is comin' early to our house!!
I spent about two and a half hours canning today and though I started out grumbling under my breath something about getting arthritis from hand-peeling those gargantuan apples, I finished up feeling proud of making something on my own and getting giddy thinking of who will receive these little jars during the holiday season.
It's going to be a holly, jolly time - and at the very least, lip-smackingly sweet!