food : even more winter canning

I don’t have a picture to share, because I am too lazy to pull all the jars out of the cupboard and clear off the dining room table to take one, but I have even more canning to report! Once the Granny Smith apples came into season, I was able to make the traditional brandied mincemeat that I’d been drooling over in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. We now have eight quarts of it, which should last us a good long while; for one of the batches I used the pear brandy made by the German uncle of my partner’s coworker’s wife. It’s good stuff, but only my father and one of our friends has ever been able to drink a full cordial glass of it, and we suspect that our friend was just being polite. There’s still a bit in the bottle, but there’s more in the mincemeat! At any rate, we should be set on mincemeat for at least a couple of years.

Those apples also went into the Simply In Season chutney, which was the same as last year except I used dried cranberries instead of golden raisins (you’re given a choice in the recipe, I didn’t just make substitutes willy-nilly!). One batch turned out as I remembered it last year, and one batch seemingly spontaneously scorched caramelized so it’s quite a bit darker and thicker. Still good, but not quite as nice-looking in the jar. When I acquired more apples, I also acquired more pears, so I made two batches of pear butter using Elise’s recipe that a friend pointed out to me. I didn’t cook either batch long enough, but the second batch came out slightly darker and thicker than the first. They’re both delicious, just tilted more toward runny and away from sticky.

In addition to the canned products, I used more of the apples to make and freeze three apple pies, one of which we had at Thanksgiving. I used the recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Pie and Tart book that I always do, with just a bit of extra corn starch to help it gel up. The pie baked up well and tasted great, but the crust didn’t survive being frozen and then driven 12 hours in a car. To be fair to the pie, the crust was having some cracking problems even when I was rolling it out, and a large part of the crust looking bad was the apples compressing much more than usual when they cooked (I assume due to the consistency changes from being frozen). So, it had a definite pandowdy ambiance, even more so since it started with a rustic whole wheat flour look. Still good, though; we won’t be throwing the other two in the trash. We still have some apples in the fridge, so there may be more pies coming down the pike.

The last canning I did was a batch of quince jelly. We managed to scrape very few quinces from our yard this year, just enough for two batches of jelly (to contrast, I think I made five or six the first year we learned what they were, and had enough to give some of the fruit away to friends). We may be able to scrape another batch, if we get lucky and the few I have remaining are not rotten at the core. With all the wet weather this year, the fruits that weren’t knocked out of the trees by the high spring winds were largely rotten. Hopefully we’ll have better luck in two years, and maybe even a light year in between.

Besides the jelly, I may can some cranberry-orange relish, but I might also just make it fresh for Christmas. Despite having just acquired many more small jars through the generosity of my parents and grandmother (who I believe thinks I did her the favor!) that will probably be all the canning I do until spring. In the meantime, I have tourtières to make (and freeze) and cookies to bake!

food : even more winter canning

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