Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Canning Cookbook- Apples and cranberries should be best friends!!

I just can't help it. I am a canning fool. It's just soooooo addicting! Besides stocking my own cupboards with delicious, healthy, chemical-free foods I always have something handy for an impromptu gift. 

Autumn in Iowa brings an abundance of fresh apples, and I have friends with apple trees that let me pick all I want for free. That's the giving spirit and generosity of small town folks. Autumn also brings fresh cranberries to all the grocery stores, and it's so easy to stock up when they're on sale and toss them in the freezer. Many months later when it's cold and snowy outside I can reach into my freezer and grab a bag of cranberries and a bag of frozen apple chunks and cook up some really delicious things. Cakes, pies, bread, muffins.....and jam.

Baking and canning are two things that I truly enjoy. Today we're going to talk about canning- jam. I love this fall combo of flavors. The sweet apples pair perfectly with tart cranberries. It's one of my favorite fall combinations. Goes wonderfully with nuts such as pecans and walnuts. This jam recipe is not overly sweet so it also makes a great topping for cheesecakes, cookie filling, whatever needs a little fall brightness.

To make this Apple Cranberry Sauce you will need:

6 cups fresh cranberries
6 cups cored, peeled, diced fresh apples
3 cups granulated sugar
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 cup apple cider (I'm using 1 cup sweet white wine)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

In a large stockpot combine the cranberries, apples, lemon juice, zest, cinnamon and apple cider. Mix well. Bring to a boil slowly and simmer over medium low heat until cranberries pop and apples are tender, using a wooden spoon to breakup and smash the fruit a little to break it up but keep some texture.  Continue boiling, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until mixture becomes thick and coats the spoon. It can take a while, as long as an hour. Another option is to cook overnight (or all afternoon) in the crockpot, but you would have to make sure to have the lid ajar at some point to help evaporate the excess liquid and thicken up the jam.

Prepare canning jars and ladle hot jam into hot, sterile jars. Adjust lids and rings and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Like almost all jam recipes, if you prefer NOT to can this, you can ladle into jars or containers and freeze or store in the fridge. It won't be shelf stable but it will last a long time.

You'll notice there is no added pectin in this recipe. Cranberries and apples are naturally high in pectin, so it's not needed, and the longer cook time help aid in gelling. You can also make this recipe substituting pears for the apples. You can add nuts to make a conserve-like spread but I prefer to add nuts at the time of serving so they retain their crunchy texture. Like almost any recipe, you are only limited by your imagination!

One night while browsing online I found a similar recipe that looks even MORE delicious, so I thought I'd share that one with you too. It was posted by Judy A. Martin in the Country Farm Girl recipe group on Facebook and she called it Winter Jam.

In a saucepan combine one 12 oz bag of cranberries, 2 medium apples, cored and chopped (peel or not- up to you), 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil to begin breaking down the fruit. Add 1-2 cups of sugar (depends on how sweet your apples are),and an 8 oz can crushed pineapple UNDRAINED, 2 tbs lemon juice. Boil until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick. Fill hot jars, fix lids and process in BWB for 10 minutes. Approx. 5-6 half pints.

I think Judy's recipe sounds fantastic and I'll be making that as well !! I'm so sure it's delicious I am going to make a DOUBLE batch !!

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