Monday, October 5, 2009

Fruits of your labor

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
(Pv 31, 31)

What's a Church Lady to do? There's nothing like homemade jam (although Trappist is an excellent second)... but stirring a bubbling pot on a hot stove during the summer is building a little too much character for my taste. Plus homemade spreads are a great way to preserve-pardon the pun- the slightly bruised and damaged bounty of the earth.

Our friends at "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker" have come up with a brilliant idea- jams, jellies, fruit butters, and marmalades made in that faithful kitchen standby. The lower heat of a slow cooker means your fruit can simmer away all day or all night without your attention (although unless you have a programmable slow cooker, we advise not leaving it unattended more than 6 hours). Tart fruits don't even need pectin. Check out their book for full details, but in the meantime, here is my adapted Apple Butter recipe:

Butter slow cooker generously.

Slice and core (but do not peel) enough apples to fill your slow cooker insert. My round 6 quart took 10 apples. Stir in 1/3 cup sugar for every pound of apples. Combine well, let sit at room temperature overnight or at least 8 hours to macerate fruit.

Stir in about 2 teaspoons apple pie spice, 1/4 cup brandy (preferably apple), and a pinch of salt.

If you have a newer slow cooker, set the apple pot to cook covered on low as the last thing before bed (allowing for a 7-8 hour cooking time). Otherwise, set it up for 10-12 hours.

After the low cooking time has elapsed, remove the lid, stir well, and let it cook on high 30 minutes to 1/2 an hour, or until desired consistency is reached.

(ETA: Puree with an immersion blender in the crock, or in batches in a standard blender;) then package as desired. My mother-in-law freezes jam in jars, rather than true canning, with great success.

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