This redhead can say she has award-winning apple butter

All of that apple and canning work actually paid off this year! I won a grand total of $1.25 and a third-place ribbon, but hey, I won!

I entered a pint of apple butter, a pint of bread and butter pickles, and a quart of green beans into our county fair this year. The fair opened last Friday and will close Thursday. This is the first time I’ve entered anything I’ve canned in our fair (Roberta, my hen, made her debut in the photography category three years ago), so I was a little nervous. I was so excited when I saw that my apple butter took third place!

My apple butter is on the bottom shelf with the white ribbon.

My apple butter is on the bottom shelf with the white ribbon.

Unfortunately, my beans and pickles didn’t place in the top three. However, I did get a chuckle when I realized my bread and butter pickle recipe was the only one with onions in it. (Sorry, not sorry judge!)

My pickles are in the jar on the top shelf on the left. At least my  jar was placed next to the first-place winner, right?

My pickles are in the jar on the top shelf on the left. At least my jar was placed next to the first-place winner, right?

The apple butter recipe is from my maternal grandmother and the pickles are a recipe that’s a family favorite from my paternal grandmother. We like our bread and butter pickles with a ton of onions in them, so I pack them in the jar. Makes for better pickle sandwiches that way!

I canned more apple products than anything this year thanks to Ohio’s bumper apple crops. About 30 pint jars went to apple butter, which I plan to give as Christmas gifts this year. Now I can joke that the recipients are getting award-winning apple butter!

Comparing apples to apples

So my friendly neighborhood apple guy sent this beast of fruit home with my husband last night:

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That’s a normal, lunchbox-size gala on top and the monster apple on the bottom.

That monster apple in the bottom of the photo that’s dwarfing the gala is a Wolf River apple. This is a new apple variety to me, but according to Orange Pippin, it’s a baking variety that was named after the Wolf River in Wisconsin. It’s been cultivated since the 1870s.

Just to give you another visual comparison, here’s how the apple stands up to a pint jar:

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Whoa, right?

I’ve been told that Wolf River apples make darn good dumplings. Are any of you familiar with this apple variety, and how have you used them?

A hand-me-down Hoosier cabinet

A few weeks ago my paternal grandmother asked me if I was interested in an old cabinet she purchased years ago that was now in possession of my great-great-aunt, her mother’s sister. At first I wasn’t sure if I had room for it in my tiny kitchen, but after some mental rearranging I told her I would take it. With the exception of our bed and our love seat, every piece of furniture I own either was a gift or a hand-me-down, which suits me just fine.

From her description, I knew it was a large cabinet with lots of storage space, which is something I always need for the food I buy in bulk or for kitchen knickknacks.

Here’s what I inherited:

My wonderful, new-to-me cabinet!

My wonderful, new-to-me cabinet!

After some research, I discovered that this cabinet is generally known as a Hoosier cabinet. Cabinets like these were manufactured by several companies in Indiana (hence Hoosier) and were used in kitchens before built-in cabinets were around. There aren’t any markings on this cabinet, but based on online pictures from the Amish Acres Historic Farm & Heritage Resort, I think this is a Coppes Napanee cabinet from the mid-1920s.

My grandmother bought this in the mid-1950s and she told me it was an antique then. She used it in her farmhouse kitchen for a few years until her built-in kitchen cabinets were put in, then it was passed to my late great-grandmother. My great-great-aunt got it in the 1970s and has had it ever since. My great-great-aunt is in her late 90s now and is downsizing, so she wanted to pass it back to my grandmother since she was the original purchaser. My grandmother passed it to me.

I think it’s in pretty good shape for its age, don’t you? I’ve washed it off and given it a good polish, but it still needs a little TLC. The tambour door needs repaired and the bread board needs reglued, but everything else seems to be OK. The porcelain enameled top still slides out for extra counter space and the bottom right drawer is the old tin bread box.

This cabinet came with the part of the old flour bin that fits in the left cabinet on the top. It’s missing the sifter and the glass window on it and it’s also pretty rusted. I’m trying to find a replacement online because I would love to use a bin, but I’m only finding bins that are for decorative purposes and not for food use. Can anyone guide me on that?

I know it’s an antique and probably is worth something, but I don’t care about that. I’m proud that I’m the fourth generation to use this cabinet and I hope it serves me for years to come!

Apple-palooza

This turned up at my house on Monday…

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…and promptly consumed my soul and kitchen for two days straight.

A jazz bandmate of my husband has a few apple trees and is gracious enough to give us any leftovers when he has them. Apparently this year was a doozy for apples! What you see is one 3-gallon bucket and two 5-gallon buckets of fruit. And when these apples turn up, I have to can them fast so they don’t rot. I hate to waste free food, especially when it’s GOOD food.

I believe these are Summer Rambo apples but I’m not an apple expert. I just know they’re darn good baking apples and make the best freaking apple butter and apple pie ever.

I knocked out the 3-gallon bucket myself on Monday and turned that into five quarts of applesauce. I called in the troops (aka my sister, the fastest apple-peeler alive) last night to crank out the rest.

Out of that entire haul, I only had to pitch roughly 10 bad apples.

The final applefest tally was:
- 9 pints of pie filling
- 10 pints of unsweetened applesauce
- 5 quarts and 6 pints of cinnamon applesauce
- 2 baked apple crisps

That’s the most apple products I’ve canned to date. And I was warned that more are likely coming, so the second round will go to apple butter if I get it. Hopefully cider will be in the stores by then so I can make the apple butter!

Are any of you canning yet this year? What have you put up so far?

A sweet, summer surprise

When I was a kid, I would sometimes sneak a wild black raspberry off of the bushes that surrounded my neighbor’s large corn field on the edge of the woods. I remember thinking not to go crazy with the picking because they weren’t my berry bushes, but surely one berry wouldn’t be missed.

So when my husband announced to me Sunday after he had mowed the pasture field that we have some volunteer brambles along the fence line, I was like a kid on Christmas. I was so excited that I texted my mom to tell her I was off “berry pickin.’” Then I grabbed my boots, cut off the top of a half-gallon milk jug to put my berries in, and away I went.

Our pasture field is a black raspberry gold mine! I’ve forbidden Sax Guy to ever cut the brambles back. Free food!

Jackpot!

Jackpot!

I picked a very full pint of berries probably in an hour or so, and if it ever stops raining in Ohio today I’ll head back out to see if any more have ripened.

I store my berries by freezing them in a single layer on a cookie sheet after washing and then transferring to a container. I’ve been using them to top off some breakfast yogurt and granola, but I’m hoping I can gather enough for some jam.

Have any of you gone berry pickin’ yet this summer? What berries do you like to look for? If you’ve never tried looking for wild berries, Mother Earth News published a field guide online titled “Foraging for Edible Wild Plants: A Field Guide to Wild Berries.”