Mystery Food Week 20: Grand Finale edition

14 Oct

Well here it is, the final week of Mystery Food 2010. The season seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye this year. Here’s week 20:

Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, apples, and beets. How wonderfully autumn!

I still have last week’s pumpkin and an array of squash, so there will undoubtedly be a lot of canning this weekend. I got around to taking care of some of the apples over the weekend after finishing the first round of Project Boerewors. (First round because the boss gave me some ideas for improvement and delicious culinary projects take time and refinement.)

But yes, about those apples. I had planned to can pie filling because Rome apples stand up incredibly well in baking applications, but alas I forgot to order some Clear-Jel before the weekend. I’ve never found a store that sells it and usually buy a bag online just as fall starts specifically for the purpose of making pie filling. Clear-Jel is cornstarch that has been modified to withstand the high temperatures that it is exposed to during the canning process without becoming cloudy or losing its thickening ability. So, no pie filling…yet.

So I did what any resourceful food preservation lover might and turned to my trusty Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and looked in the index under “apples.” An overwhelming number of recipes poured off of the page, but I was looking for something a bit simple. (I’ll tell you why later.) One recipe caught my eye and with only 4 essential ingredients it was a perfect project for the day:

Brandied Apple Rings

Ingredients
5 lbs. apples, cored and cut into ¼ inch rings, treated with lemon juice or citric acid to prevent browning.
3 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 cup brandy
Red food coloring (optional, but makes this look oh-so-pretty.)

Method
-Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan large enough to fit all of the apples. Boil sugar and water for 5 minutes.
-Remove from the heat and add the apples and food coloring. A few drops of food coloring is all you need. Let the mixture boil gently for 15 minutes or until the apples are tender.
-Again remove the pan from the heat and remove the apples from the syrup using a slotted spoon.
-Pack the apples loosely into clean, warm jars, leaving ½ inch headspace.
-Put the saucepan back on the heat and return the syrup to a boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy.
-Pour hot syrup over apples, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Tap the sides of the jars to remove air bubbles and then adjust the headspace if necessary.
-Wipe the rims of the jars clean and then place on the lids and screw on rings.
-Process jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

The apples are tasty warm, but I bet they are even better after sitting in that brandy-syrup for awhile. They are a lovely accompaniment to fall pork dishes and would also make a slightly more elegant strudel.

By the way, if you have syrup left over after filling the jars, put it back on the stove over medium heat and let it reduce to a thicker consistency. Add a few shakes of cinnamon and you’ll have a delicious topping for ice cream, waffles, cheesecake, or a spoon!

So, why did I go for a simple apple recipe over a more ingredient-heavy chutney, salsa, or multi-fruit jelly? I guess you’ll have to wait until I post about Project Ice Cream Layer Cake later this week… 😉

Ciao for now,

Neen

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