Apples: Waste Not, Want Not

Apples are awesome!  Especially organic ones.  My favorites are Honeycrisp, Gala, and Fuji (in that order).  When I buy apples, I put them in a fruit basket on the kitchen table and they get eaten…or not!  This is one of those “or not” seasons.  I had some Red Delicious in that basket (my least favorite), and they just don’t stay fresh.  They get mushy and soft, and may look alright on the outside, but aren’t very pleasant to eat.  I also had an unopened bag of organic Galas that needed to be used.  SO… I turned on my creative brain and went to work.

Out comes my apple peeler-corer-slicer.  Love this little gadget!  I hook it to a little wooden platform.  Here’s the picture: Laying on its side on the platform, ready to be hooked up and used.

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I get to work peeling, coring and slicing the apples that were still firm enough to go through this gadget.  Of course, the Red Delicious apples were mush inside, and wouldn’t hold up to the process.  So I simply sliced those with a knife (core and all).  The sliced Reds and the scraps from the cored and peeled apples went into a large pickle jar.

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The good apple slices went into my old slow cooker with sugar (brown and white), freshly ground cloves and nutmeg, and cinnamon.  I turned it on low to cook for 10 hours.  Apple Butter in the making! (Complete recipe below.)

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For all those icky scraps that one may have the temptation to toss, I loaded them up in the large pickle jar and poured in about 1/2 cup of organic sugar, and covered them completely with clean, filtered water (not tap).  Why would I do that?!  To make my own apple scrap vinegar!

To allow the fermentation process to proceed correctly, I covered the jar with a paper towel and rubber band so it could breathe, but still be protected from dust, etc.

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Into a dark, cool place it goes, and I’ll leave it for 2 weeks. (Checking on it and stirring a bit every 2 or 3 days.)

After two weeks, I’ll drain the apples out of the vinegar liquid and discard them into my compost out back.  Then I’ll replace the paper towel with the metal lid that came with the jar and leave it stored in that dark, cool place for several more weeks!  The longer it sets, the better the vinegar and the darker it gets. It can sit for months!  (Make sure it’s stirred every so often.) It will also develop the “mother” that is so popular with expensive apple cider vinegar brands on retail store shelves.  It didn’t cost me a dime!  Well, maybe a dime by the time you factor in the sugar.  The scraps would have normally gone to waste, but not in my household!

Below is the recipe for the apple butter I’m making (and boy, does the house smell divine right now).  I will follow up this blog with more pics as the vinegar ages, and when the apple butter is finished.

[NOTE: Today I only had half of the apples called for, so I cut the following recipe in half]

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SLOW COOKER APPLE BUTTER

INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg cloves, and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples and mix well.
  2. Cook in slow cooker on low for about 10 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
  3. Uncover, stir in vanilla and continue cooking uncovered on low for about 2 hours.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the apple butter until smooth.
  5. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze.
  6. Serve on bread, muffins, pork chops or just eat it with a spoon!

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Apples after 10 hours of cooking
After cooking for 10 hours on low, adding vanilla and starting the 2-hour, uncovered cook time: (See how much they cooked down, and how much juice they produced naturally? Beautiful!)
In the cans!
After pureeing the apple butter in the blender, I water bath canned them for 10 minutes. Because I cut the recipe in half, it didn’t make very much: only 3.5 half-pint jars. But they all sealed beautifully!

Below is the video I took at one week of the ACV [apple cider vinegar] process:

BELOW: UPDATE – 2 WEEKS INTO THE ACV PROCESS

UPDATE:  FINISHED! (several weeks later)

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Ended up with four 16 oz bottles of goodness!

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