Sunday, November 15, 2015

Apples, Apples, and More Apples

My Dad also had a bumper crop of apples in his orchard this season, and I ended up with a ton of them (or seemed like it anyway, lol). 

Needless to say, I've not being doing a whole lot besides peeling/coring/chopping/slicing/cooking/canning apples these past coupla months.

 I've mentioned before how I like to try to use as much of the apples (or pears) as I can get out of them.

Previously I'd used the peels/cores to make Apple Cider Vinegar. While that worked out good, turns out, I just don't use ACV (even if I should), nor do I know anyone who does.

So I Searched and found out that you can make jelly out of the apple scraps, and not only jelly but apple sauce, apple butter, and fruit leather.

I started out making Apple Pie Filling (Click link for recipe).
Apple chunks go into sterilized jars, the cores and peels go into a stock pot.

Add water to just under the top of the apple cores/peels. (After I did this once, I started using apple juice in place of water for a more "apple-y" flavor.)  I put the pot on to boil for about half an hour.

While the cores/peels was boiling, I made my apple pie filling syrup stuff, filled the jars, put on lids and rings, and processed in water bath for 20 minutes.

When the cores/peels cooked down, I poured them into a piece of muslin fabric in my colander.  I used muslin instead of cheesecloth to keep my juice more clear, without any fruit bits getting through.

I let it drain for awhile, then gathered the edges of the muslin and mashed and squeezed as much more juice through as I could.

After I squeezed out all the juice I could, I put the remaining apple mush into my foley food mill and squeezed out any good fruit puree, leaving seeds and peels behind.

When I was done, I had nearly 4 quarts of apple juice, 2 pints of apple sauce, and some fruit leavings that my chickens think are pretty darn good (or they just eat pretty much anything anyway).

With the juice, I made Candy Apple jelly. (Click for recipe)

It has Red-Hots cinnamon candies in it, giving it that gorgeous red color.

Then there was the applesauce.

It did not look good, and it did not taste good (to me).  I came thisclose to dumping it in the chicken scrap bucket, but decided to try doctoring on it first. Figured I couldn't mess it up any worse.

Using my recipe for applesauce using apples, no peels/cores, I added sugar and then it tasted much better. Apparently I'm not an unsweetened applesauce fan.

It was still ugly, though, and no one was going to eat it the way it looked, no matter how it tasted.

I attempted to disguise it by adding spices to make it into apple butter.
It may make a good apple butter in a pinch, but since I was making real apple butter at the same time, the difference was obvious.
This was more like a spiced apple sauce, than apple butter.

I put the jars of applesauce/butter in the fridge, figuring I'd end up throwing them out before it was over, and moved along to the next thing, dehydrating.

I didn't know much about dehydrating, and sat down to research info...during which I learned that applesauce and even apple butter can be made into fruit leather/fruit roll-ups using the dehydrator.

I spread(ed) the apple sauce/butter onto parchment paper on my dehydrator trays (I use this dehydrator ), and dried at 175° for...many hours, 8? 10? 12? 
I started at about 6-7 hours, same as regular apple slices, but kept having to add time, I lost count how much.

It finally dried out.

Here they are rolled up, cut in half.

I tasted them, and was not a fan. Again, figured I'd end up throwing them out.
Before I did that, though, I let John and Ryan taste them, and they liked them just fine.

So I cut them (with my regular kitchen scissors - regular scissors I bought the Dollar Tree that I just keep in the kitchen drawer) into approx 2-3 inch widths.

They take them to work for snack, and have pretty much gobbled them all up already.
J shared some with his co-workers and they even liked them. 

So to re-cap, I got apple jelly, applesauce, apple butter (or, spiced applesauce) and/or fruit leather roll-ups, all from the parts of the apples that people usually throw away, the peels and cores.

I also got apple juice, but used it for jelly or substituting for water in boiling subsequent batches of apple scraps, because as far as drinking it, I wasn't a fan. Hahaha. 
Others would probably consider it delicious.

In addition to the apple pie filling, I made crockpot apple butter (Click for recipe and free printable labels).

Then I decided instead of canning more apple pie filling, I wanted to dehydrate apple pieces to use in a pie filling later.  Dehydrated apple pieces would fit more to a jar, taking up a lot less room, and probably last longer than the canned pie filling.

For this job, I busted out the handy-dandy apple peeler/corer/slicer.

Soak the slices in a mixture of water and lemon juice to keep them from turning rot-colored-brown.

What happened then was....
Some time back, I had tried slicing apples, sprinkling with cinnamon, and drying them in the oven.
We did not like them at all. (I meant to go back and try cinnamon and sugar, but just never did.)

Anyway, I didn't figure we'd like plain old dried apples with nothing on them at all any better.

Maaan, I spent hours - days! - working on peeling, slicing, drying, and cleaning up the mess after, several dozen apples (There's about 10 apples in that half-gallon jar in the picture above).

That's right, John or Ryan picked up one and ate it and that was all she wrote.
They load up quart size baggies full with dried apple chips to take to work with them.
I'm like, "Do you know that's like FIVE apples in that bag?!"

So, yeah, can probably forget making apple pies out these babies. They'll be gone in another week or so.

At some point I also made some Apple Pie Jam. I don't even know. 

I made it through canning most of the apples into pie filling, jam, or butter, but I ended up shoving a lot of the cores/peels into freezer bags and stowing them in the freezer to mess with later, after I've recovered a bit, lol.

(It doesn't look like from the pictures here that I canned nearly as much as I actually did. There is/was a lot more. I shared a good bit of it with my family.)