Monday, November 01, 2010

Steaming and bottling/canning apples

Last week I borrowed a steam juicer from the bio-garten and also brought home three large bags of apples (mostly windfalls). I am very in love with this piece of equipment and will be keeping my eye out to see if I can pick one up second-hand once I have a bit a money.

Basically you chop the apples up small (wash them first and chop the 'hairy' bit of the end and remove the stalk but leave skin on and use core too), then put them into the top colander-like part of the steamer, like so:

The very bottom part gets filled with water:

Then as the steam from that moves up into the main part of the pan (through a funnel arrangement) the apples slowly start cooking and releasing their juices down into the middle part:

And you can then collect the juice out of the spout. The juice is pasteurised when it comes out and will keep for a long time so long as you put it into sterilised jars or bottles.

We had done this a few times at the bio-garten but each time they just dumped the pulp remains onto the compost. I asked if it wasn't possible to use it for something else and the main consensus was that it was mostly lack of space and jars that stopped us from doing anything else with it in the garden but at home, you would just put the pulp through a mouli, making applesauce and then put that in sterilised jars too. Or mix a bit of honey into the pulp, spread it out thinly and dry it as a fruit leather.

So, when I had the steamer at home I decided to give it all a go. The first lot, I juiced and got three litres of juice plus one smaller jar. I put the pulp through the mouli, adding in the juice from the smaller not quite full jar just to use it up. All went into sterilised jars and seemed fine.

Three litres of juice and 1 x 1 litre jar, 3 x 3/4 litre jars lus 1 x 450 ml jars of apple sauce.  Annoyingly, I know now first-hand why it is important not to bump against or touch your jars as they are sealing.  I did this not long after bottling this stuff up and the seal popped down almost immediately on the one I hit against.  I reckoned it wouldn't seal properly so was very surprised the next morning to see that all were sealed tightly (took rings off and held jars up by lid, no problems).  But a week later and I have just checked those jars again as I still need to put labels on them (yes, I tend to collect jars of stuff to the point where I'm going to lose track of what's where before I get around to putting labels on).  And surprise, surprise the big jar of applesauce is not only a bit loose, it's not even close to pretending to be sealed and there's a lovely layer of furry stuff on top of the sauce.  I can't actually remember if this was the one I did knock against but it seems likely.  Sigh.

But moving on.  When I did the second lot I was a bit pressed for time so I got just over two litres of juice out of a pot and a half full of apples and then put the rest through the mouli (i.e. far more liquid than the first lot). I put a small amount of this into sterilised jars immediately but the rest went into a big bowl as I didn't have time to deal with it.

The next day I decided to look up t'internet to see what people say about bottling applesauce the day after you've made it. Didn't see anything suggesting it wouldn't be possible but almost everything I read insisted that it should be processed in a water bath (unlike what I had been told before). So, to be on the safe side, I heated up what I had made the day before, put it into jars and processed it in a waterbath. It took a while for it to come up to boiling and then I let it boil for just over ten minutes. Took them out and one had definitely opened as the water was looking decidedly applely.

I had used one glass jar (with rubber ring and glass lid) and the rubber seal seemed to have slipped so I was putting it down to that. The rest were leifheit jars with the two part lids. I tightened up the rings and on one of them, apple squished up around the edges. Ok, I thought, so one of them was too loose and now two jars won't seal. Fine.

This morning I checked to see and the glass lidded jar didn't seal as expected. The leifheit jar which I thought wouldn't seal did but one of the others didn't.

ALL of the leifheit jars, though, had apple around the inside of the rings when I took them off. Like this one:

But despite this, the jars are sealed even though I assume there is apple stuck under the seal as well and I'm not sure if that's a big problem or not.  If any of you more experienced canners out there have any advice, I would very much appreciate it.

Although I don't have the steamer any more I do still have some apples left and I was going to just make ordinary stewed apple and bottle it. I've done that once before and didn't process it in a water bath and it was fine months later, which is what the people in the garden had also said. So I'm curious if people here have done that too or do you always process it in a water bath?

I'd really like to put up enough stewed apple/apple sauce/dried apples this year to do me through the few months in late spring and summer when fresh apples just aren't so nice.  But this is just making it seem like more work than I'm able for at the moment.

Still, on the positive side, I will be making applesauce cookies today.  I can freeze some of it as well as I have very selflessly made space in the freezer by eating the last of the vienetta for breakfast. :-)  I've loaned my dehydrator to someone for a couple of weeks so can't make any leathers at the moment.

Apart from that it's a new month so I'll post another budget update in a day or two once all the usual transfers and payments have gone through.  I did take advantage of the shops being open yesterday (normally shops only open on Sunday two or three times a year here) to go into a shop for larger ladies (the name of which would translate as 'All Round Chic' - can't decide if I hate it or think it's amusing) that is usually closed when I am passing.  I badly, badly need new trousers for work and managed to get a pair of navy trousers, which means I can wear those navy shoes I bought years ago, just before my then only pair of navy trousers gave up the ghost.  So I don't need to worry about buying new black shoes for work for the moment either.  At 69.95, they were a very reasonable price as well.  I haven't bought many clothes for a while (apart from my summer lifesaver 2 for 10 euro t-shirts) but based on what I see in shop windows and what I hear people talking about I was thinking that if I came away with change from a hundred I would be very lucky.  And since I was in town I popped into one of the big department stores and bought a nut cracker.  For the past two years I have bought fresh nuts when they appear in the market and then never gotten around to actually using them because I don't have a nut cracker (or floors hard enough to take the strain of a nut being hammered into submission on them).  I actually still have the hazelnuts and walnuts I bought last year.  So those I bought on Saturday will be shelled very shortly and I might even try one or two from last year to see if they've gone completely rancid or might still be something edible.  If I can get more hazelnuts next week there will be a couple of jars of honeyed hazels in my future.


Mags said...

Enjoyed your detailed description of how the steam juicer works. I've never heard of them before. Do/could you use the extracted juice to make apple jelly(jam)?

Moonwaves said...

You can indeed and I have. Going to have another go as well. Didn't think I'd like an apple flavoured jam-type substance but it was delicious and I only kept a small jar of the batch I made before.

Mags said...

The leftover pulp would also be great for bulking out blackberry jelly I'd say. As I de-seed my blackberries, it takes a lot of them to make a few jars of jam. Am planning to add apples to bulk out the next batch, but I like the idea of getting apple juice as a bonus.