One of my many projects, this Summer, has been preparing the pantry for the Autumn and Winter months. Without these preparations, in order to enjoy fruits and veggies, I would have to choose a commercially prepared product of dubious origin and treatment. This way, I have my very own treasures, prepared from “scratch” awaiting my need for them all Season long!
Today’s project description is for Apple Pie Filling.
I began with the yellow transparent tree in my back garden. Known for their soft texture and tendency toward graininess, once these apples are ripe their only real function is applesauce and apple butter, which I have made and enjoyed many times. But this year, I decided to pick them a day or 2 before being entirely ripe. The texture remained firm and the flavor, amazing!
The only safe apple seems to be grown organically, or as they are in my neck of the woods, “grown by Nature”- never watered, sprayed, fertilized by humans at all. If you can find an apple tree then, by all means, use those apples. If not, buy the good stuff and use those.
Pick only the number of apples you plan to use immediately. Peel, core and slice apples into a bowl of water with added lemon juice, to prevent a certain amount of browning (some is obviously inevitable, but no worries. Cinnamon and nutmeg are brown, too).
Place apple slices into a large saucepan or stock pot, and coat with a liberal dusting of corn starch. I am not going to give amounts, because that all depends on the amount of apples you begin with. Add sugar (the amount also depends on number and sweetness of apples), ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cardamom, ginger, and/or whatever spices you like in your apple pie. Hand blend these ingredients well, until apples are uniformly coated with the mixture.
Then, on medium heat, begin to cook the apples down. The length of time this will take is entirely dependent on the type and ripeness of apples. With my yellow transparents, it took about 10 minutes or so. Firmer apple varieties will take longer. The goal is to cook them until they are about halfway as cooked as you would like them when the pie is finished baking. Taste the mixture throughout the process. Nothing in it will hurt you, “raw”, so don’t be afraid to taste all along the way. To ensure enough sugar (if you accidentally add to much, give it a squeeze of lemon juice to balance), to create optimal spice balance, to detect doneness, all can be done with tasting. Be sure you like it before you go further!!!
Then, pack the mixture into sterilized glass jars. To sterilize, you can run them through a dishwasher and heat dry them, you can boil them seperately, in a canning pot, or you can fill them with boiling water from a kettle and leave them full until the apples are ready.
Then, place the jars, tightly lidded, into a water batch canner, and adjust water level to 2 inches or so above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to boiling and begin timing 25 minutes from rolling boil.
When they have been processed, remove them to a towel on the counter and allow to sit overnight, undisturbed. Their seals should begin “popping” almost immediately.
Next morning, the ones whose lids are sealed can be removed to the pantry. If the seal isn’t right, place it in the fridge and use it within one week.
When it is time to make pie, the jar can be emptied into an unbaked pie crust, and baked at 350 degrees. Lattice designs and other cut-outs are popular in 2-crust pies. But my favorite apple pie is crumb-y! (this can also be dumped directly into greased pan and topped to make apple crisp)
Apple Pie Crumbs:
1 stick of butter, softened a little (not squishy)
1/2 to 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves, ginger, cardamom, allspice (each)
Using your hands, squish it all together until the mixture will stick together when you make a fist around it, but also breaks up easily into course crumbs when you break it apart.
Pour this crumb-y mixture over the pie filling and bake as usual for pie or crisp.
The convenience of having apple pie filling already made when I am ready to throw a quick pie or crumble together is going to be amazing! The same process can be achieved with many other types of fruit, so don’t hesitate to experiment! Holiday baking can be quick and easy if you are prepared!!!
Handcrafted Holiday Desserts, quick and delicious! Take that BigFood. Stick it to Monsanto with America’s most fond symbol of Home; Apple Pie!!!