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 The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
You can find the information on food preservation that John had compiled on this page. Out of the options John offered us, I chose to make Reduced Sugar Apple Butter from The National Center for Home Food Preservation, roughly halving the recipe.
Apple butter is something I didn't know existed until I visited New England with my husband a number of years ago, in early October. I brought back a jar from the trip and used it mostly as an ingredient in baking goods. I actually made apple butter for the first time at the end of last apple season, so I decided that for the Daring Cooks challenge I would make a variation of the basic recipe.
In my freezer, I had a one cup container of frozen blackberry purée from last year. After making blackberry sorbet (sorbetto alle more) and blackberry risotto many times, not to mention some jars of apple and blackberry preserve, I decided to try and preserve the intense flavor and color of blackberries in the freezer. I puréed the blackberries in my food processor and pressed the result through a mesh strainer to remove the pips. It is a bit of work, but I think it is worth the effort. I then froze the result in a two small plastic containers. The right time to use the frozen (surgelato) blackberry purée never came, and then a new blackberry season got under way. When I saw the Daring Cooks challenge, I decided to thaw some of the blackberry purée and add it to apples from the new crop to make a variation on the base recipe.
- slightly more than 2 lbs of apples, unpeeled, cut into eights
- blackberry purée, approximately 3/4 cup
- apple honey (miele), about 20% of the weight of the apples
I brought the fruit to a boil. After 10 minutes of cooking, I mashed the apples with a potato masher. Towards the end, I added the spices specified in the recipe, halving the quantity of cloves and allspice and using one teaspoon of cinnamon. After I turned off the heat, I used my immersion blender to obtain a smooth purée.
I jarred the hot apple butter according to the method described in this post (see step 4), which I learned when I took a conserve-making class last year, as recounted in this post. Once cooled, I labelled the two jars (vasetti) I had filled, so I would know what fruit is in them, the quantity of sweetener, and the date of preparation. I am planning to use some of the apple butter right away in recipes like this torta di mele, where I use it as a substitute for some of the butter and sugar.
The slice of bread in the photo will look lovely when topped with a layer of my apple butter with blackberries, don't you think? Like other mystery baked goods shown in previous posts, I will soon reveal the source of the recipes. Stay tuned.
You will find out about different preservation efforts, when you browse the creations of my fellow Daring Cooks. A special thank to John for an interesting and fun challenge.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the burro di mele alle more audio file [mp3].
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