Crabapple Jelly

We have a row of miniature apples (about the size of cherries) that grow on our block, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with them for years. A week ago or so Zack turned me on to the “Saving the Season” canning book/memoir by Kevin West (here’s his blog), and I’ve got a pretty serious canning crush on this guy. So I followed his instructions to make crabapple jelly without store-bought pectin, instead making a pectin stock from the fruit, and it was pretty fun. I’ve had all kinds of jam trouble lately but this jelly set up really nicely (maybe too nicely, it’s pretty darn firm in the fridge.) I love adding herbs to jelly, and he recommended thyme, though in hindsight I wish I would have went with rosemary.





Cider time is nigh, foraging time is now

I went out last night with a ladder strapped to the top of my car and my apple picking bag that I’m pretty embarrassed about (but what are you going to do when people hassle you to add things to your Amazon Wish List every Christmas?) and hit up my two favorite apple foraging spots in my neighborhood. Last year the apples were pretty much non-existent, but this year, I got enough to have my cider pressing party in an hour and a half.

5 boxes full — the basement smells delicious

Wishing my photos were as good as Zack’s


The last of the canning (hopefully…)

Alicia has been making applesauce like crazy with the bags of apples that we brought home from Wenatchee back in October, and we have probably 20 or 25 quarts so far. I kept saying that I was going to make some apple pie filling since we just used up our last batch, but it’s been busy. Finally last night the Venn diagram of motivation and time overlapped, and I canned 10 quarts of pie filling. It looks like a good batch this time around; I followed this recipe (mostly, and despite the Comic Sans). Blanching the apples after they were peeled and sliced seems like it helped keep the whole production from oxidizing too much, though I had to run the sauce through the blender to de-lump it before pouring it in the cans.

A week or two ago, I also made some apple jelly with rosemary, which is an amazing combination of flavors. Rosemary usually overpowers things, but with the apple, the flavors are perfect together. We received a jar of this jelly from someone a few years ago and loved it, but I can’t figure out who it was. If you’re out there, reveal yourself! At any rate, it is tasty, tasty jelly, and it’s all Hannah wants on her toast for the time being. Just take any apple jelly recipe, and add a sprig of fresh rosemary after filling the jars, right before you put the lid on; the rosemary flavor infuses the whole jar.

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The start of canning season

The little crabapples out in front of the run-down church next door are ready to go, so Robbie and I filled up a basketful yesterday. The sauce they make is really tart, but the batch we froze last year was perfect as a base for pie filling, adding either apples or rhubarb. The first batch today made 7 pints of applesauce, and I have the rest prepped to cook down tomorrow, hopefully for another 5 or 6 pints. That should get us through to next year in pretty good shape. Though pies have become my go-to potluck dish, so I think we’ll also do some apple pie filling this fall.

I got a little artsy with the photos this time, just to warn you. Here’s to steamy August nights in the kitchen.

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Cider Weekend

We tagged along with our friends Clay and Michaelynn on their annual “Cider Weekend” at their friends’ orchard in out in Wenatchee this weekend. It’s a gathering that’s been happening since they were all in college, where the orchards are gleaned after they’ve been picked, cider is pressed, taco soup is consumed, and all manner of farm fun is had. Our kids ran wild through the apple trees all day, got pushed on the huge swing, and ate more apples than I thought possible in the course of an afternoon. Plus, do I need to say anything more than “apple baseball”?

The main event was the cider pressing, and after a morning of picking apples, we got to work processing them into juice with the Ringsrud family’s fancy cider press. The previous weekend, we had our annual cider pressing here in Seattle, and in hindsight, it was a quaint affair compared to the raw power of this machine, squeezing nearly every last drop out of the apples it pulverized. In a couple hours we pressed more cider than everyone could even take with them.

To top it all off, the family has recently kicked their artisan hard cider business into gear, producing some fantastic bottles from the apples they grow in their orchard. Look for Snowdrift Cider… you won’t regret it. I think Whole Foods is carrying it in the Seattle area.

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