apple butter

By on Oct 10, 2010 in fail... or not, love, preserving | 0 comments

Another fall day masquerading in summer’s heat. The apples were nestled together, dozing in the warm air, waiting patiently for their transformation into that most magical of fall elixirs… apple butter. Six pounds of apples were swiftly cored and thrown into a pot so large it would not fit in the sink, then drowned in apple cider made of their brethren pomaceous fruit. The day had been warm, but for the apples, it was about to get warmer. Slowly, achingly, the apples and cider came to a boil, the moist white flesh softening in the growing heat, letting forth a warm tangy scent. It was time for the skins to leave. Slowly, ladle by ladle, the mix was ground through a food mill into yet another pot, emitting a luscious dark puree. The puree was set to the boil again, spices were added, and then… a long slow simmer. Two large pots on the stove were not enough. A third pot, used countless times before and through generations, came to a boil, cleansing the glass jars of invaders that would spoil the fall harvest. At long last, after four hours of simmering, the sun had set and the apple butter had turned a delicious dark hue. Scents of cinnamon and clove swirled through the air. But something was not right. The scent was divine, the taste induced eye-rolls, but still… was it thick enough? Hot jars were pulled from their private hot tub, filled, lidded, and then returned to the hot tub to finish. As the moon rose, the jars cooled on a rack, the four caps let forth one full plink after another, announcing to the quiet kitchen that the jeals were now fully sealed. The next morning, in the early morning light, all appeared well, but only time will tell. This could be a lovely batch of...

the graping

By on Oct 6, 2010 in fail... or not, preserving | 2 comments

Less than 24 hours off the vine, the grapes warily eyed the cold light of the city. Plucked and cooked into a vivid mass, the grapes were ground slowly through a food mill that had been crushing their ancestors for decades. The thick syrupy juice collected below, working through the molecules of the mill and the bowl, delivering a purple blush that belied the vivid magenta of their fresh demise. Unbeknownst to the cook, the grapes had spent their night in the dark confines of the refrigerator in tense communication with the packet of pectin. At the crucial moment, the grapes fighting to their last as the heat went high, the pectin seized into a hundred gelatinous chunks, refusing to release back into the boiling liquid. All chance of jam was lost. The cook, desperate, twirled between the stove and the sink, sifting out the chunks, spraying the kitchen with bright grapey droplets. The Pectin Rebellion came to an end, and the pectin had won. Thick grape syrup was resolutely poured into hot sterile jars and sealed away, with waning hopes that it would settle into jam. The cook, happy at least with the victory of wasting very little of the grapes, listened to the forlorn pings as the jars sealed and dreamed of what could be made with grape concentrate… And then the jam set...