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!

Summer’s winding down and the canner’s heating up

I feel like August has been nothing but a food preserving marathon!

I’m just finishing up today’s pickle palooza. I keep forgetting how many pickles just a small amount of cucumbers can produce! One paper grocery bag full gave me four quarts and 14 pints of bread and butter pickles and nine half-pints of sweet relish, with leftovers. I’ve only gone through 10 pounds of sugar today. Whew!

I find that I have a few must-do every summer canning recipes: apple butter, apple pie filling and some sort of pickle. Do you have those in your recipe box as well? What are your staples?


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?

Recipe link: Spiced peach butter

So here’s something that I’d never though I’d ever say – I love to can. I love it so much that I’m spending Labor Day canning possibly my most favorite thing – spiced peach butter.

What’s that, you say? “Spiced peach butter? What is that nonsense?” Think apple butter, but only made with peaches. It’s divine. It’s so good my parents brought me peaches yesterday from my favorite farm market near their house to con me into making more. I pay them for the peaches with a jar of spiced peach butter. Works for me!

The ingredients are simple: peach puree, sugar, and a combo of all or a few of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. I just use cinnamon and a dash of clove ’cause I’m a rebel like that. If you have the 100th Anniversary Edition of the Ball Blue Book (don’t mistakenly call it the Blue Ball Book or your husband will give you alarming looks – not that I have done this or anything), the recipe is on page 30. Or, if you don’t have it, you can find a similar recipe at, which is a fantastic canning website.

Which I love about the peach butter is that it’s not sickening, put-you-in-a-diabetic-coma sweet. When I make jam, I used the recipes in the Sure-Jell low or no sugar packet to cut down the amount of sugar. I like a little sugar with my fruit, thank you. And peach butter just looks so pretty in a shiny glass jar!

I’m going to be a Susie Homemaker this year and put my peach butter in our county fair in October. I’ve never done this before in my life, and this is only my second year canning, but I’m going to try it. I’m also entering my blackberry jam and ketchup. Since I got a Presto 16-quart pressure canner this year, I’ve felt like a canning goddess and feel fearless. Here’s a shot of the fruits of my labors so far, minus a few jars that I’ve given to family members in exchange for things:

What are you canning this year?

A marmalade mishap

It looks pretty, but in reality it's a pretty big mess. This shot is not the greatest either.

I tried to get my Martha Stewart on last weekend and make marmalade. It didn’t go very well.

I found out that marmalade is a sticky, hot mess. Seeds will fly. Juice will spill and splatter and you’ll need to mop afterwards because your floor will be as sticky as a glue trap. Scraping the pith (the white stuff) off of a peel is the biggest pain in the rear I’ve ever encountered.

So what in the world possessed me to make marmalade? My uncle delivers food to restaurants for a living. He delivered a load of tangerines to a restaurant the week of Christmas, but they refused them saying they were too ripe. So, my uncle ended up with several boxes of them to make a long story short. When we gathered at my grandmother’s on Christmas Day, no one was leaving that house without taking a few bags of tangerines. I ended up with three bags and had no idea what to do with them since I’m not much of a tangerine person. My mom suggested marmalade, so that’s what I decided to do.

I did some Googling and decided to modify the orange marmalade recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It took 17 tangerines and one lemon to get the portions I needed. That wasn’t the hard part. The hardest part was peeling those blasted tangerines and then scraping the pith off with a butter knife so the marmalade wouldn’t be bitter. And don’t even get me started on finding all of the seeds in the fruit. I had no idea tangerines had so many freaking seeds.

The lemon, tangerine plup and rind before cooking.

I left it sit overnight as instructed by the recipe, but the marmalade would not set up when I cooked it no matter how much praying I did. I canned three pints of it and stuck the remaining two pints in the ‘fridge. It’s possible that this marmalade will set up after two weeks like some jams do, but I’m not holding my breath. It has a nice flavor, but it’s more tangerine goop than marmalade. I baked the remaining goop into muffins Monday morning. That actually turned out pretty well.

I suspect that the fruit was too ripe to have a lot of pectin remaining in the peel and that’s what went wrong with the gelling process. Or, maybe it was because I used an orange marmalade recipe when I should have used a tangerine recipe. Perhaps all citrus is not created equal?

If I do this again, and I think you might have to put a gun to my head to get me to tackle this a second time, here’s what I’m going to do:

  1. Save myself a migraine and buy seedless tangerines. But hey, these were free, and beggars can’t be choosers.
  2. Use this recipe for tangerine marmalade that I found online. There’s no need to scrap the pith in this version. This would be much easier to work with! Just throw in in a food processor and done.
  3. Wear gloves. Lemon juice in paper cuts are not a fun time.
  4. Read this tutorial first on how to properly cut the citrus for the pulp. It took me forever to get into a groove to cut these things.

If you want to get ambitious and make this, I would suggest that if you don’t have a food processor, borrow one or buy one before you make this. Chopping up citrus peel by hand requires the patience of a saint. I also suggest that you buy both ripe fruit and green. That will (hopefully) provide you with enough pectin for your marmalade to gel. Buy back up pectin just in case.

Anyone else ever tried marmalade? How did it work for you?