Something about canning makes me happy. Maybe it’s just working in the kitchen. Maybe it’s seeing rows and rows of beautifully preserved jams and fruits and vegetables after you’re done.
Mom started getting us used to working in the kitchen when we were very young. My brother and I would stand on chairs and crack eggs into cake batter or hold measuring cups until they were needed. As we got older and my brother’s interests veered more toward hard drives, I stuck around in the kitchen to help mom with cooking and baking and everything in between.
I’m pretty sure we canned strawberry jam while we lived in the city. I remember Mom finding some strawberries on the clearance shelf at the store. They weren’t good to eat, but they were good to can. So we did.
But the vast majority of our canning happened when we moved out to the farm. We had apricot trees and pear trees. We had a large garden plot. So canning was just something that needed to happen.
We’d buy pectin in big bags from the Amish bulk food store in Pleasantview, and we canned pears and pear honey, apricot jam, tomato sauce, pickles, and everything we could get our hands on. We had lots of pickles, because we always had lots of cucumbers. Dill pickles and bread and butter pickles and sweet pickles.
To this day, it’s relaxing to just stand and stir a pot of bubbling jam, looking forward to the moments after the canning is done when we can eat the skimmed-off foam on a thick slice of homemade bread.
So when I started thinking of Christmas presents this year, I wanted to do something different. Mom had found a recipe for apple butter you make in the crock pot, so we thought we’d give it a go. We did a test run last weekend, and the results were better than we expected. So I thought I’d share the recipe here in case anyone wants to try it out for themselves.
Easy Crockpot Apple Butter
3 quarts unsweetened applesauce
4-1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. cloves
3/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix it all up well in a big crock pot. Cover and cook on high for three hours, stirring it once every hour. Then, uncover and cook for five more hours.
We ladled it into eight-ounce canning jars. They sealed themselves, but if you want to store them for an extended time unrefrigerated, it’s best to waterbath them. We got 14 jars out of this size batch.
Boy, is this stuff good. The hardest thing about it is keeping Dad out of it.
So that’s the apple butter we made this year. The next thing we’re working on is hot, sweet pickles, guaranteed the best pickles on the face of planet Earth. You want that recipe, come back next week.
Have you ever given homemade or handmade Christmas presents? Where did you get your ideas?