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March 28, 2002

An apple a day

The doctor, perhaps in a bid not to see me again, suggested that I try all the varieties of apples at the new supermarket. The best for out-of-hand eating are the sweet Pink Ladies; huge Fujis from Washington state, sweet and crisp; and smaller Fujis. For cooking, tart Jonathans; Romes, great for baking; Granny Smiths for pies. Red and golden Delicious can't compare.

This is the apple that Gene ate.
This is the worm in the apple that Gene ate.
This is the tunnel of the worm that was born in the apple that Gene ate.
This is the crisp white flesh of the apple that Gene ate.
This is the blood on the crisp white flesh of the apple that Gene ate.
These are the gums that bled on the crisp white flesh of the apple that Gene ate.
This is the mouth where are the gums that bled on the crisp white flesh of the apple that Gene ate.
This is the nose that sits above the mouth where are the gums that bled on the crisp white flesh of the apple that Gene ate.
These are the eyes that sit above the nose that sits above the mouth where are the gums that bled on the crisp white flesh of the apple that Gene ate.

A highlight of the fall has been the days when Janet and I put up many quart jars of apple butter.

First we set a date. About a week before, we go to the Farmer's Market in Dallas to pick up boxes of Jonathans or Macintoshes, tart enough to stand up to the sugar and spices. Some years we have driven through Arkansas or New Mexico in the fall and buy boxes of apples to take home and can.

Also before canning day, we make sure to have plenty of jars with lids and rings, lots of cider, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger.

We run the jars through the dishwasher the night before so they will be ready when the butter is.

Starting early in the morning, I wash the apples (a simple rinse will do if we got them at an orchard so they aren't waxed), and core and cut them into pieces that fit in the food processor. I mix the pieces with cider and vinegar to get a thin puree.

Puree goes into the big electric roaster (got new one a couple of years ago -- the old one kept throwing the breakers) and starts cooking down. Sugar and spices go in and the mix cooks all day until it becomes heavy, thick and dark brown. Sometimes I add brandy or the liqueur applejack or hard cider at the last for a little flavor boost.

About an hour before the butter's endstage, we put the jars in one water bath for sterilization, and the rings and lids in another. Bring to a boil and maintain it for at least half an hour.

Canning isn't really hard. You just have to make sure the jars are sterile, that the seal is good, and that the butter is hot enough not to support bacteria. We use a special canning funnel; it looks like a little bowl with an open cylinder on the bottom that goes into the jar.

Apart from the sense of accomplishment, the house smells of apples and spices for a couple of days.

We give jars of apple and peach butter for Christmas gifts to friends and co-workers. Every year at a holiday party, they become favors for visitors to our home. We hope they enjoy the fruits of our labor as much as we enjoy the labor.


Posted by Gene Zipperlen at 04:59 PM