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Fall Harvest Traditions: Preserving the Apple Harvest–Drying Apples circa 1840s

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Preserving the Apple Harvest–Drying Apples circa 1840s
Apple Drying c 1840

Apple Drying c 1840

Essential to being able to preserve the apples until the next harvest was preservation by drying.  One way to do this was to slice the apples and then put a string put through the slices tying a knot between slices and then hanging them to dry.  When apples were needed one could just cut the quantity needed from the string allowing the remaining apple slice to remain on the string by cutting just below a knot.  Apples could be reconstituted by boiling in water and used in the recipe as if from fresh.

Here’s a recipe from the The Home Cook Book published in 1876 in Chicago as a benefit for Home for the Friendless which offered aid to orphans and victims of domestic violence.  According to Becky Young LaBarre, a volunteer at Garfield Farm Museum’s Harvest Days, this recipe is similar to that would have been used in 1840

Dried Apple Cake ~ Mrs. G. W. Gage

One cup dried apples soaked over night, then steamed till soft; put them into a cup of molasses and simmer slowly till well cooked; when cool add one egg, one-half cup of sugar, one-half cup of butter, one-half cup of milk, two and a half cups of flour, one teaspoon soda, two of cream tartar and spice to taste.

Have you ever had a cake or pie that was made with dried apples?

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Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fall Harvest Tradition: Making Apple Butter

Fall Harvest Tradition:  Making Apple Butter
Apple Butter

Image by Gina Marie on her website

Apple butter was another way of preserving the harvest.  Cooking the fruit down to above 50% sugar is actually a way of preserving it.  The apples were cored, cut up (peeled or unpeeled), and cooked down in the freshly pressed apple cider.  Apple butter is similar to applesauce; however, it is in the cooking down until the apples carmelize produces the lowered sugar content that actually preserves the fruit.  This carmelization is what gives apple butter its brown color.  Making apple butter in large quantities is indeed still an all-day task.  The recipe that follows still can take the good part of an afternoon.  This recipe is from GermanFood.about.com

Apple Butter

Apple Butter
Image by Jennifer McGavin on about.com

Prep Time:  15 minutes ~ Cook Time:  3 hours ~ Total Time:  3 hours, 15 minutes ~ Yield:  About 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 6 apples, peeled and quartered (about 3 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple cider or juice
  • 2 – 4 T. sweetener (agave syrup, honey, sugar)–if desired
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Directions:

  1. Chop the apples into small chunks and place in a saucepan.  Add the apple cider or apple juice (can be reconstituted from frozen), the sweetener (if desired), ground cinnamon and cloves.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring often, for one hour. The apples should be very mushy.
  3. Remove cover and simmer for another one to two hours. The mixture will get thick and turn dark brown, from the caramelized sugar.
  4. When you stop cooking is up to personal preference. Again, the picture shows apple butter which was cooked until it was shiny, dry and thick like jam. You can always quit while it is still soft.

You can always use apple butter as a sweetener in other recipes, in place of half the fat in quick breads or as an accompaniment to pork. Use it instead of maple syrup on pancakes, with your morning oatmeal and over cottage cheese. And of course, spread on your daily bread. It is lower in calories than dairy butter and has no fat.

Did you know that apple butter has no butter in it at all but was so named for its creamy consistency and also because it is used commonly for a spread on bread?

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fall Harvest Traditions: Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Butter

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Butter
Apple Butter

Apple Butter

Continuing on from the previous entry regarding apple cider, another use of the apple cider was in making apple butter.  In the 1840s this was minimally an all-day endeavor, sometimes two-days, and the apples were oftentimes cooked outside in a large kettle over an open fire.  According to Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches by Eliza Leslie circa 1842, it was essential not to cook the apple butter in a brass or bell-metal (bronze with 3/4 parts copper and 1 part tin) “on account of the verdigris which the acid will collect in it, and, which will render the apple butter extremely unwholesome, not to say poisonous.”  Other recipes do allow for cooking in a brass or copper kettle as apple butter cooked in an iron pot can result in poor flavor.  However, they also do address the potential for verdigris thereby rendering the apple cider not as wholesome of a product and recommends minimum consumption.

Making Apple Butter

Image from Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival on their website

The apple butter produced would keep for a year.  The basic recipe involved filling the kettle with apple cider and boiling it down until it was reduced by half.  Peeled, cored, and quartered apples would then be added to the pot as could be covered by the cider.  Eliza Leslie advises making a large quantity of apple butter resulting in a two-day process as it would take the whole day to simply stew the apples.  The apples were cooked until softened and then removed and put aside to cool as more apples were added to cook until softened.  The next day the apples and cider would be boiled again until “the consistence is that of soft marmalade, and the colour of a very dark brown.  Twenty minutes or a half an hour before you finally take it from the fire, add powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to your taste.  If the spice is boiled too long it will lose its flavour.”

Here’s a link to an article on how to make traditional apple butter the old-fashioned way–over the open fire in a large kettle.  Copper Kettle Magic:  The Art of Making Apple Butter

Have you ever tried apple butter?

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fall Harvest Traditions: Apple Cider Cups

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Apple Cider Cups
Apple Cider Cups

Image by Stephanie on her blog

What a fun way to serve up apple cider–in apple cups!  There are various instructions out there for making apple cider–here’s one that is simple to follow from www.gimmesomeoven.com  The link for homemade apple cider will take you to a recipe for a modern-day version of apple cider made by cooking down apples and adding spice directly.  This stove method differs from true apple cider that is pressed and doesn’t have added sugar.  Either way–apple cider makes a delicious fall drink served hot or cold.  Whether you buy it or make it yourself, serving it up in homemade apple cups is an especially unique way of serving.  Here’s how to make some apple cider cups from www.gimmesomeoven.com:

Apple Cider Cups Recipe

Ingredients:

  • large apples
  • lemon juice
  • apple cider, either homemade or storebought
  • optional: cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice and/or star anise for garnish

Method:

Apple Cups-Cut Off Top

Cutting off the apple tops.
Image from gimmesomeoven.com

On a cutting board or sturdy surface, use a knife to cut off the top of the apple. Then take a paring knife and carefully outline where you’d like the “rim” of your apple cup to be. (My rims were about 1/4″ wide.) Use a spoon to carefully begin scooping out the center of your apple until you have a nice “cup”. (A melon baller also works well for this.)

Apple Cups--Outline Rim

Hollowing out the apple.
Image from gimmesomeoven.com

Also, if your apple doesn’t sit exactly level, take your paring knife and just slice off a few millimeters to even off the bottom to make it even. Just be careful not to let your knife cut through the bottom or sides of the apple when hollowing it out, or the cider will leak out!

Apple Cups

Apple Cups
Image from gimmesomeoven.com

Once you have the inside of the apples hollowed out, brush a little lemon juice over the inside of the apples (to prevent browning). Then fill with your favorite apple cider, garnish with cinnamon or spices if you’d like, and serve!

Ali’s Tip:

You could also warm the apple cups in the oven before serving. I just wouldn’t leave them in too long, or they will lose their firmness.

Certainly adds some elegance to serving apple cider!

photo sources:

http://www.allthingslittleandpretty.blogspot.com

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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