The Daring Cooks #12 Food preservation...

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

I couldn't possible miss this month's Daring Cooks challenge. First - the host is a person who I admire and always look forward to His posts and Daring Kitchen challenges results :) Secondly - I love food preservation, don't do it a lot here in Ireland as I really think the full advantage of this is when you have your own little veg patch, some fruit trees etc.
I've picked Apple Butter recipe as I still remember my Nan making apple marmalade every summer - that amazing smell... and that unforgettable taste! I recently made some apple marmalade myself and instead of all spice (as in this challenge recipe) I used vanilla pods - amazing result! :) The all spice version gives it another 'dimension' and my Hubby is already planning a dinner of pork chops and apple sauce - using of course this apple butter :)
As an addition to the challenge I also made a mint syrup - hope you'll try it!

How to make it...


Reduced Sugar Apple Butter:
- 4 pounds apples (already pealed and cores removed)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup granulated sucralose (I used normal sugar :) why not!?)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Wash and rinse half-pint or pint canning jars; keep hot until ready to fill. Prepare lids and screw bands according to manufacturer’s directions.
Combine apples and cider in 8-quart saucepan. Cook slowly and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until apples are very soft (falling apart).
Position a food mill or strainer securely over a large bowl. Press cooked apples with cider through the food mill or strainer to make a pulp. Be sure to collect all the pulp that comes through the food mill or strainer; for example, scrape any pulp clinging under the food mill into the bowl.
Combine pulp with sucralose and spices in an 8-quart saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently.

To test for doneness, spoon a small quantity onto a clean plate; when the butter mounds on the plate without liquid separating around the edge of the butter, it is ready for processing. Another way to test for doneness is to remove a spoonful of the cooked butter on a spoon and hold it away from steam for 2 minutes. It is done if the butter remains mounded on the spoon.
Fill hot apple butter into clean hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with a clean, dampened paper towel and adjust two-piece metal lids and bands.
Process in a boiling water canner. Let cool, undisturbed, 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

Information about boiling water canning.
Freeze up to 1 year, if using water boiling canning - life shelf up to 1 year. If kept in the fridge - up to 2 weeks.

Mint syrup:
- 50 g freshly picked mint leaves
- juice of 1 lemon
- 250 g sugar
- 1 level teaspoon sea salt

Put the lemon juice into a large bowl. Add the mint leaves and pound with the end of a wooden rolling pin/spoon. Add sugar and salt and continue to crush the mint leaves. Leave to macerate for 8-10 hours or overnight.
Pour 600 ml boiling water over the macerated mint mixture and leave to stand for a further 12 hours.
Strain the syrup through a very fine sieve or muslin cloth. Gently bring to simmering point and simmer for a couple of minutes. Pour into warm, sterilised bottles and seal with screw-caps or corks (I used very small jars as it's handier then to use it to a mint tea, summer cold drink with lemonade or tonic, or even for a sauce).
Syrup will keep unopened for 4 months, once opened should be stored in the fridge. If you want your syrup to have a shelf life of 1 year you need to can it using water boiling.
This recipe comes from a great book 'Preserves' by Pam Corbin, one of the River Cottage Handbooks.