Apples-The Perfect Crop for the Farm
The house smelled of spicy apple butter, savory tomato sauce, sweet blackberries, and fresh baked bread yesterday. All of the odors mingled together, warm and inviting, signifying the end of the growing season. This time of year the kitchen counter tops overflow with bowls of apples and tomatoes from the garden and piles of kale and chard. It seems that no sooner have I cleared the counters and they are full again.
I remember as a young girl, helping my mom in the kitchen at harvest time. My sisters and I would sit on the front porch preparing the vegetables, snapping beans, shelling peas, slicing and dicing. Then we would shuttle our bowls into the kitchen where my mom stood over steaming pots and kettles. The hiss of the pressure cooker always frightened me. As the steam shot out with each hiss, I wondered if the lid would explode covering the kitchen with beans. In our basement, shelves lined one wall displaying our summer fruits and vegetables in clear glass jars. These memories instilled in me the joy of gardening and eating from your own harvest. There is something very satisfying about growing your own food and putting it away for winter meals. It brings with it feelings of self-sufficiency and thriftiness.
|Bob enjoys an apple.|
Apples seem to be one of those perfect fruits for a sustainable farm as everyone loves them. Our animals enjoy the apples as much as we do. When we pick the apples from the trees in the field behind the house, we have two baskets. We put the “good” apples in a basket for making sauce and pies and the “drops” in a basket to feed to the sheep, pigs, and chickens. The sheep will stand at the fence line watching us pick the apples calling to us as if to remind us to share with them. Bob, our wether, especially enjoys fresh apples and has taught his two ram buddies to love them as well.
|Homemade Apple Butter|
The “good” apples are brought back to the house where we sort them again. The softer varieties are made into applesauce or apple butter and the more crisp varieties are put in boxes in the basement next to my potatoes. We wash the sauce apples, core them and fill a large stock pot to simmer on the stove. Once the apples have softened, we run them through my grandmother’s old food mill to make yummy applesauce. I freeze some of the sauce and then make apple butter with the rest. I have found that a crock pot works well for making apple butter. The whole house smells of spices and sweet apples as it sputters in the pot. With a crock pot, making apple butter is easy!
Homemade Apple Butter
Fill crock pot with approximately 12 or 13 cups of homemade apple sauce. Add cinnamon, cloves, and brown sugar to taste. Cook on “high” setting for at least eight hours with the lid cracked so the steam can escape. The sauce will turn a delicious brown as it cooks down and become thick. (I have found that most recipes call for a large quantity of sugar. I prefer my apple butter a little more tart and add the sugar slowly over time-tasting as I go to be sure to keep it from getting too sweet.)