Saturday, October 17, 2009

Preserving the Summer - part I

As I may have mentioned, due to our snowy and elevated location, Lostine has about a twenty minute growing season. This means in the fall, *everything* suddenly and explosively gets ripe at once, and you desperately put it in boxes and barrels and in the fridge and the freezer and the cellar and hope you get around to cooking, canning, pressing, drying, or eating it before it spoils. You tuck in your still-living plants with frost cloths every night before you go to bed, and go inside and stay up late cooking and processing, and then you go door to door like Mormons -- trying to give away what you can't cook or store. People get very generous at harvest time, but it's born of necessity and overwhelm. Also, they all stop blogging temporarily, because there are just too many things to do and they don't have time to wait for the photos to upload.

Project#1: Applesauce
My fabulous friend Lori had me over to her house... I came with two coolers full of apples, and she showed me how to can, and how to use her ginormous pressure canner, and she asked me about Uganda and told me about Ethiopia and played us a book on tape! She also created an apple crisp from the excess apples. It was a lovely day. Lori is an expert canner, and proof that canning is not only *useful* but *decorative* as well; her shelves are chock-full of neatly alternating colors, from peaches to beans to applesauce. I should've gotten a picture of her display!

This is how you can applesauce:
you cut apples into pieces, getting rid of the gross stuff.
You cook the apples to a nice mushy texture, and then force them through a food mill. Cinnamon and brown sugar!
You wash your jars, fill them up, put lids on, and put them in the canner. You heat the canner with the pressure vent open for a while, then close it and raise it to a specific pressure, watch it and maintain that exact pressure for a specific time, turn the heat off, and don't open the pressure canner until the pressure is zero!
Then when you finally remove your jars (using a spiffy jar-removing-tool) you have to sit them carefully, prayerfully, delicately on a table and not jostle them for several hours. The mystical truth is that as you patiently watch and wait they will at some point "seal," suddenly making the reverse of the sound a jar makes when you open it. This is apparently because the pressure increase that happens when it cools down pulls the lid in.

finished apple sauces -- and apple crisps!

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