Although our own apple trees aren't producing yet (boo!), a friend asked us last week if we wanted to come and pick some apples off of her tree (Wahoo!) So the kids and I went over with a borrowed apple picker and went to work.
An hour or two later, we were home again with two five gallon buckets brimful of apples. The kids washed them while I quartered them, leaving the skins and cores intact and only cutting out any bruises (for "wild" apples (not sprayed) there weren't many worms at all!) Then I put the quartered apples in my smaller canning kettle, which I filled about half full of water. I boiled the apples until they were soft, and then let them cool a little before I processed them using my KitchenAid strainer attachment.
I used a slotted spoon to lift the apples out of the kettle, leaving most of the juice behind. When most of the pulp had been scooped out, I poured what was left in the kettle through a mesh strainer to separate the last of the pulp from the liquid.
stainless steel wide-mouth funnel - I was so glad I found this! I hate food (especially hot food) touching plastic!) and canned them (ten minutes in a water bath).
While the canner was boiling, I poured all of that lovely juice into a saucepan, boiled it down to about half the original amount, added honey to taste, and canned that for syrup for future pancake breakfasts (again, ten minutes in a water bath).
Now on to the scraps! Can't waste those! All of the peels and cores that had been strained out by the Kitchen Aid attachment had been collected in jars as I worked. I made sure each jar was only half full of apple scraps, then added honey and water,* leaving at least an inch of head space. In about a month, I'll have around 5 gallons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar!
So, from my FREE ten gallons of apples, I got 14 quarts of applesauce, 5 pints of apple syrup, and 5 quarts of apple cider vinegar - over $90 worth of food!
*The exact recipe (adapted from the Nourishing Traditions recipe for pineapple vinegar) calls for a pint of apple scraps, a quart of filtered warm water, and 1/4 cup of rapadura or honey, mixed well. Cover with a towel or cheesecloth (or just the cover, loose - mine was hissing at me this morning because I'd left the top on tight after I shook it up! Fermentation is happening!!!) Stir once a day if you can.
After about a week the liquid will start to darken, and that's when you strain out the fruit scraps (you can compost them, or feed them to your chickens). You need to let it ferment 2 or 3 weeks longer, stirring it every so often, and then it's done! Easy peasy!
After reading the Sauerkraut Survivor series (and battling fruit flies in one of my jars of fermenting scraps) I'm going to try making my ACV in heremes jars (if I have any left - I've been making lots of pickles lately!) I'll let you know how it turns out!
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, and Raising Homemakers.