There is really no other way to can than with the seasons. You make strawberry jam in late June, pickled beans through July and August, salsa in early September. To make strawberry jam now with those near tasteless California berries or salsa mid-winter with hothouse tomatoes and peppers is just begging to be disappointed.
If you live in Ontario and are canning local, apples mark the end of the season.
And in our house, apples mean apple butter — a thick spread of spiced apple puree that tastes as good on hot tea biscuits as it does with roast pork.
Years ago, when I was a reporter with the local community newspaper, David and I were introduced to apple butter at the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival. As is typical at such a community fair, there was a variety of food for sale and sample. We bought grilled sausage on a bun and, as seemed fit for the occasion, topped them with apple butter.
We were hooked.
Honey apple butter
This recipe comes from Bernardin. For the best flavour, use a combination of apple varieties. I used a blend of McIntosh, Cortland and Empire this year. Probably the best batch I ever made — I think it was 2004 — featured the heirloom yellow apples a coworker picked off the tree in his yard. He shared the fruit; I shared the butter.
This recipe makes 6 250-mL jars or 12 125-mL jars.
2.3 kg (5 lb) apples (McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Empire)
500 mL (2 cups) pure apple cider
15 mL (1 tbsp) ground cinnamon
2 mL (1/2 tsp) allspice
250 mL (1 cup) pasteurized honey
Wash apples, remove cores and coarsely chop.
Place apples and cider in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer covered until apples are soft, about 20 minutes
Press through a sieve or food mill and measure 1875 mL (7-1/2 cups) puree.
Combine apple puree an spices in a clean saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add honey and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until apple spread mounds on a spoon or desired thickness is reached.
Ladle into hot, sterilized 125 mL or 250 mL jars. Process in hot water canner for 10 minutes.