QUESTION: Do you have articles on canning? It is something I would like to try. -- Luann Boeckerman, Greenacres, WA
MARY JANE: Quart jars full of ready-made apple pie filling are the perfect starting place for someone canning for the first time. There is an abundance of good canning apples available this time of year. Lined up in a pantry, they are worthy of display and photography.
Apple pie filling needs to be tender, thickened properly, sweetened perfectly, carefully spiced and delicately blushed. Because raw apples shrink a great deal during baking, apple pies tend to develop a gap between the top crust and fruit, which causes the top crust to crumble when the pie is sliced. In this recipe, the filling is precooked and thus preshrunk, eliminating the gap and producing a full, shapely pie that slices effortlessly for serving well-formed individual slices. Precooked filling also allows you the choice of covering the pie with a lovely lattice top. This recipe makes a softer filling than one made with raw apples, giving weight and smoothness to the pie.
Gather the following manual and tools for canning: For canning efficiency, there are many books to guide you through the process. Found almost always where Ball brand or Kerr brand canning jars are sold, the Ball Blue Book Guide is a resource you can trust when you preserve foods by methods based on safe science. Order online from www.homecanning.com
7 wide-mouth quart jars and lids 18 pounds (approx.) red-skinned apples such as Cameo, Gala, Winesap, Braeburn, and Jonagold 4 1/2 cups sugar (organic sugar is now available where natural foods are sold) 1 cup corn or rice starch (organic rice starch is available through mail-order by calling 888-750-6004) 2 tablespoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon nutmeg 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 10 cups water
In a large pot, combine sugar, starch, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, lemon juice and water. Wash, core, pare and slice apples. Leave some skins on for coloring. (If you are using an apple peeler, this can be accomplished by the use of a lever designed to hold the peeling mechanism away from the apple.) Add apples to syrup. Bring to boil while stirring. Pack, hot, into canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headroom. Wipe the tops of jars carefully, making sure they are clean. Adjust caps. Process quarts for 20 minutes in boiling water bath. For a pressure canner, process quarts at five pounds of pressure for 10 minutes. Follow instructions per canning manual for determining whether or not your jars are sealed and safe for storage.
For a novel new idea using a jar of your ready-made apple pie filling, go to www.maryjanesfarm.org and follow directions for making a Tarte Tian.
Optional tools include the following: All-American Pressure Cooker/Canner made in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Available by mail-order, item #921. (www.lehmans.com, 888-438-5346)
Apples can be safely processed using the traditional boiling water bath method. However, processing fruits under pressure conserves water and energy.
Back to Basics Apple Peeler made in Sandy, Utah. Available by mail-order, item #NP861. (www.lehmans.com, 888-438-5346)