Lessons learned from a bag of rotting apples:
I’m a very goal oriented person. I LOVE having a list of goals. I make lists. LOTS and LOTS of lists. Lists of things I’d like to do… places I’d like to go… even 1, 3, and 5 year plans. As a matter of fact, I get SO caught up in the planning that I never seem to be able to pull the trigger and get busy crossing those things off the list.
Ok, so back to the apples. I’ve had canning foods on my list of Things Frugal People Do and Therefore I Must Do for a long time. There is a box of jars and lids on my front porch shelf right now, waiting for me to get to work. I just can’t get myself past the enormity of CANNING. It’s time consuming. It’s hard. It’s SO MUCH FOOD. So I wait… for a day that I have nothing planned (heh… yeah, with 3 teenagers, a hubby, a full time job, a social life … I’m waiting for a free day…) so that I can try my hand at this canning thing.
After grocery shopping last week, while doing the weekly jigsaw puzzle that is making room in my stockpiled freezer and pantry to put the groceries away, I noticed that the bag of apples I bought the prior week was going bad. Evidently, small apples aren’t as appealing for snacks as great big apples. *NOTE* Getting more apples per pound backfires if nobody eats them. I really didn’t want to toss a whole bag of apples into the compost, so when the BRILLIANT idea to make apple butter with them crossed my mind, I forced myself to ignore the voice in my head screaming about how complicated it is to preserve food.
I cut all of the bad spots off the apples, cored and chopped them, and put them into the slow cooker with with 2 cups of apple juice, a tablespoon of cinnamon, some allspice and nutmeg, and a cup of Splenda. I turned the slow cooker on low and left it overnight. The next morning, I poured the contents into my handy dandy stand mixer (Honey… have I mentioned that this is still the BEST Christmas gift I’ve ever received???) and beat the cooked apples until they were nice and smooth. The beaters grabbed all of the apple peels that didn’t mix into the apple butter easily, making it SUPER easy for me to toss those out.
The apple butter was a little soupy when I finished making it, but after being refrigerated for a day or two, it thickened up. It’s not like “store bought” apple butter. It’s ZERO POINTS per serving (for those Weight Watchers folks) and tastes far better than what you can buy in the stores… but definitely on par with what you can find at fall festivals or roadside stands.
I didn’t do anything groundbreaking… but I feel much less anxiety about making food to be preserved. It can’t be THAT difficult to learn the home canning process. Look at how much easier it was to make apple butter than I thought it was going to be.