Last weekend the Philosopher, my brother and I joined our neighbors for apple-picking. I wish I had taken my camera, but I will have to try to describe the joyful, sunny morning spent in the orchard. Our neighbors have two young children and we met some of their friends and children at the orchard. First, I quickly realized that picking your own apples is cheaper. It was all-you-can-eat while picking, $10 for a 10-pound bag, and $16 for a 20-lb bag. We certainly got our fill of apples that morning. It was great way to figure out how many of what kind we wanted. The children were delightful to watch as they strained to reach an apple, took a bite and quickly smiled. The Philosopher piled children on his shoulders so they could reach the larger apples at the top of the trees. It makes me happy to think of children being so involved in the process that brings food to their tables. The games of who could pick the most or the biggest or the highest apples were friendly. There was no shortage of laughter or smiles that morning. Full bellies, bright sunshine, and great community bring people together again 🙂
Last week, the orchard had Melrose, Rome, Suncrisp, and Winesap apples available. The winesaps were absolutely the whole group’s favorite. The skin was tight, giving way to a crisp and slightly tart, yet pleasantly sweet inside. The other important thing to note is that they did not charge you by the weight of the bag, only the size. Therefore, I made sure my loot was bulging the bags at their seams. When I got home, I realized I may have been a little ambitious. Three of my largest mixing bowls did not hold the entirety of our collection. After a week of apples for snacks, apple pie, apples and tofu, cooked apples with ice cream…there were still a ton of apples on my table. Obviously this called for another adventure into canning. Thankfully, Edible Columbus offered me the simple and satisfying answer. I had been thinking about making apple butter, but this recipe combines apples and sweet potatoes for a sweet punch of fall. Thankfully, my dear friend Jack and the Beanstock was visiting and didn’t mind helping to peel, slice, and consume bits and pieces of apples. Since I had far more apples, I took some generous liberties with the recipe. First, I decided that I would match the amount of apples and sweet potatoes (4 cups of each). I also decided to use the apple cider we purchased at the orchard instead of the water the recipe calls for. Then, I doubled the entire recipe. Finally, when I realized I still had apples for days, I began adding more apples until I ran out of room in my biggest soup pot. I opted to use my stove, since my slow cooker is far too small for this job. I kept the burner set to medium-low and stirred every 5-10 minutes to make sure I didn’t scorch the pan. Soon, what began as apple soup, turned into a hot, viscous apple lava. I think it took about 6 hours total (I am not completely sure, since I had to stop after about 4 hours, refrigerate the pot and start again the next day). I skipped their step of blending the butter, I found the consistency to be perfect. Canning was easy using the directions from Edible. I currently have canned one dozen jelly jars, but have about half the pot left and no more jars so I think I am going to have move onto pints. No matter what, there is an upcoming biscuit-making party in my kitchen because I can’t wait to smother them with this sweet potato apple butter the minute I pull them out of the oven.
Original Recipe for Sweet Potato Butter, by Edible Columbus:
4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into slices about ¼ inch thick
2 cups apples, cored, chopped and peeled
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir. Cook on high until sweet potatoes and apples are soft (about 4–6 hours). Put in a blender or food processor and mix until well blended. The mixture will be a little thicker than apple butter. This recipe cans well; see page 49 [or click here] for hot-water bath canning method. Put sweet potato butter in hot jars, seal with fresh lids and process for 10 minutes in boiling water. You can keep canned sweet potato butter in your pantry, or if not canned it will hold in the refrigerator for several weeks.