September 19, 2010

A Gift Of Apples

My DH drives a big truck for a living, which has advantages and disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage of course, is that he's gone for days at a time, but it also means he has several days off at a time too. Traveling around the country means that he's sometimes able to find things we can't find locally, like my 10 gallon sauerkraut crock. He's brought home maple syrup from New York and Michigan, sweet corn from Indiana (Southern sweet corn can't touch sweet corn from the Midwest), cheese from Wisconsin, and filé from Louisiana. The other day though, he brought home a bushel of grown-close-to-home Carolina apples!

These are Rome Beauties, recommended by the orchardist's wife as being her husband's hands down favorite for pies.

They were huge!

It only took three to get the 6 cups I needed to make a pie (recipe at end of post)

I started preserving them with a batch of apple butter, because I knew it would take the longest to make.

I used this recipe, and the crock pot method of cooking it down. Since my crock pot only holds three quarts, I had to divide the recipe into thirds.

Then I started canning apple pie filling. I did that next, so I could add the cores and peels to the applesauce pot.

Since I bought 5# of Clear Jel awhile back, I figured I need a canning recipe which uses it. Those are basically USDA recipes, of which there are several versions around the internet. I finally chose the one from PickYourOwn, here, because it contained the most pie spices, and we like a spicy apple pie.

I have to say though, that I found the USDA's recipe to be quite complicated and neither fast nor easy to make. As with canning my figs, I didn't understand the step of blanching something that's going to be heat processed anyway. The other "problem," was that this recipe called for more Clear Jel than my canned blueberry pie filling (for which I used this recipe). The resulting sauce was too thick to pour over the apples in the jars. PickYourOwn did give a heads up on this, so I used wide mouthed quart jars to make packing easier, alternating layers of apples and sauce as I filled the jars.

Still, it was very tasty, just like restaurant pie. Not as good as scratch pie made with fresh, raw apples, but good to have on hand as a home canned convenience food.

My last project was applesauce.

I chopped up and cooked down the rest of the apples for this.

BTW, does anyone else have use of these?

I don't even know what its called but I couldn't manage without it. The cooking pot sits on top of it, and it prevents scorching. I use it anytime I cook down jams, jellies, and sauces. I found this one at a thrift store, having disintegrated my first one. I can't remember when or where I originally bought one, and couldn't google up anything that resembled it.

Apple scraps were processed by our compost optimization department.

It is their responsibility to convert kitchen scraps into nitrogen rich manure, ready for the compost pile. They are extremely efficient at this.

Final preservation count from one bushel of apples was:
  • 7 quarts pie filling
  • 17 pints applesauce
  • 19 half-pints & 2 pints of apple butter

That was three days worth of canning, and I was scrounging for jars at the end! I'm out of half-pint jars, down to 1 regular and half a dozen wide-mouth pints, and have a dozen recently purchased regular quarts and 6 wide-mouth quarts left. I lament the dozens and dozens of jars I left behind in 2005, when we made two long distance moves in six months. I will definitely be looking for boxes of canning jars on clearance sale.

Lastly, the recipe. This is for a 9" pie:

Apple Pie

2 & 2/3 cups flour (I used a 50/50 mix of whole wheat & unbleached white)
1 tsp sea salt
1 C organic palm shortening
1 egg
1/4 C cold water (or enough to get desired consistency)

Cut shortening into flour and salt. Beat egg into water and add to flour mixture. Mix with a fork (not hands) until moist. Divide for top and bottom crusts. Roll out between sheets of vegetable oil sprayed waxed paper, and fill.


6 cups prepared apples (peeled, cored, & sliced)
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
salt, just a dash
2 tbsp butter (more or less)

Mix apples, sugar, flour, and spices. Spoon into bottom crust.  Dot with butter. Add top crust, seal edges, and poke a few holes in top for juices to bubble out. Bake at 450°F for about 40 - 45 minutes. I use a pie shield so the edges don't get too brown, and put an old pizza pan on the rack underneath, to catch dripping juices (saves on cleaning the oven).

I've never used Rome apples before, but they made delicious pie, apple butter, and apple sauce. We didn't plant a Rome Beauty apple tree, but I'm thinking about it. :)

A Gift Of Apples (both photos & text) © September 2010 by Leigh at


upinak said...

I have been thinking about doing my first batch of apple butter and canning it.

I have a feeling you have set me to do it. When I do, I will let you know. After the house is done. So expect a "Hey, I need help with Apple Butter!"

The Mom said...

Those look delicious! I've never canned pie filling before. That may have to be added to the list. My favorite all around apple is the Cortland. It's firm, and has a great mix of sour and sweet.

Anonymous said...

OMG have been very busy and it all looks so good! Going to check out that Apple Butter recipe...thanks so much and enjoy! Hugs!

Sue said...

Your stovetop burner-cover-thingy is called a heat diffuser. I agree, they're very useful!

Here's a link to one good one with a handle:

Kids and Canning Jars said...

Thanks for the awesome recipes. That little "thingy" is a toaster. You can put your bread on it to toast, or a tortilla. I have the exact same one.


Mama Pea said...

Land sakes, give that girl a bushel of apples and stand back! Fall and apples just go together, don't they? Can't wait to get my hands on some. It's mainly sauce that I want this year.

We have one of those heat diffuser thingies but ours doesn't have a handle . . . which would certainly make it handier! I'm forever picking ours up to put it away before it's quite cool enough.

Leigh said...

Upinak, homemade, home canned apple butter is sooo good. It's easy and it's tasty. I'll look forward to your post on it!

Heather, years ago I canned cherry pie filling and thought it was such a blessing to have on hand. This year I had an abundance of blueberries, and then of course the apples. I'll have to try some Cortlands. Thanks for the recommendation!

Pam it's very yummy. It would be fun to try it with different kinds of apples.

Sue, thank you! I checked the link, found the cast iron one and then a metal one just like mine. The cast iron one looks like the way to go though. More expensive, but I've already burned out at least one and would hate to lose this one too.

Melissa, I hadn't thought about that. Do you have a lot of crumbs falling through the holes? Works perfectly to diffuse the heat under a pot and prevent scorching.

MamaPea, I noticed the ones at Sue's link had a removable handle. Is yours that way?

I agree about fall and apples. The best part was that our house smelled like cinnamon, apples and cloves for three days!

Tami said...

Your Hubby is his own "Meals on Wheels!" Well almost. He brings you the raw ingredients and you turn it to yummies.

Love the composting crew!

Flower said...

Busy, busy...and the house must smell of heaven! I made the apple pie filling like that last year. I did water it down due to being too thick. We like the filling warmed up and simply eaten without the pie crust.
Nothing goes to waste with goats and chickens. I've read that chickens shouldn't have apples or they will molt. Too late...but we won't do it again. Have you heard that?

Leigh said...

Tami, and it's always a surprise. I love the things he brings home to me.

Flower, good question. I've heard different opinions on giving apples to chickens, and these seem to run the gamut. The consensus seems to be limited amounts are okay, and of course, mine had competition from the goats! Charlie (my llama) wasn't interested.

Prairie Mother said...

what an awesome hubby you have! ditto on the sweet corn. Being from indiana and transplanted to Kansas, boy do I miss it!!

Callie Brady said...

Wow! After reading about all the work you did and about the wonderful results I want a piece of apple pie so much. I can almost smell the wonderful aroma of cooking apples. mmmm
The heat diffuser thingy is a real find!
Thank you for commenting on my blog. :)

Anonymous said...

The apple pie looks scrumptious! I am going to try your recipe - the pastry looks excellent. I use a heat diffuser all the time, esp. with a gas stove. I have gone through at least three and they are available at our local hardware store.

Theresa said...

Oh just yummy, all of it. I think I have seen those burner thingies somewhere, just can't remember where.
Williams & Sonoma Catalogue maybe....

Benita said...

Oh, YUM!

When we lived on the farm down the road from where we live now, there was an old apple tree that was perfect for applesauce and cooking. The Dunkard Baptists from down the road came to pick them (with our permission of course) and they traded us all the apples they needed for fresh from the oven apple dumplings and a few pints of applesauce. Gosh that was good!!

Kathy said...

If Dan ever heads this-a-way, you better tell him he's on orders to let me know! Not that there's anything much around here 'cept the Grand Canyon and enchanting deserts, but I could at least buy the man a cup of coffee! ;) Who knows...maybe he needs to have a sheep riding shotgun home???!!!

Julie said...

My mother canned the best apple pie filling but do you think I could find the recipe after she passed away!

Leigh said...

Prairie Mother I'm from Illinois and I can't tell you how disappointed I was the first time I bought "sweet corn" in the South. Something about that midwestern soil I think.

Callie the kitchen smelled scrumptious for the three days I cooked apple butter. And the pie was fabulously yummy. And I don't mind saying so myself!

Evelyn, I never could make a good pie crust until I got this recipe. I think it's the egg. The kind of fat makes a big flavor difference too. I love the organic palm shortening.

Theresa, I really need to find a source of those heat diffusers. Sue gave a good link, but I'd love to find a local source, like Evelyn has.

Benita, what a wonderful trade! I'd love to work out something like that with someone.

Kathy, the company Dan used to work for only sent him to the southwest once, New Mexico. He got to see Ship Rock and was sooo impressed!

Oh, Julie, bummer! I never could find my grandmother's recipe for ham salad. It was so tasty. Sad how recipes get lost like that.

Vicki said...

It all looks so delicious Leigh. You truly are an inspiration. I laughed out loud at the look on Charlie's though he was saying..."I'm no apple composter"! Hilarious. I confess I've never tasted apple butter. Do you eat it on toast?

Cynthia said...

I've always called those gadgets a flame tamer -- but mind doesn't have a handle. Now I want one like that!

Leigh said...

Vicki it's funny you should say that about Charlie, because he wasn't the least bit interested in the apple scraps. The goats got the most, with Jasmine coming out the clear winner. The chickens just grabbed what they could. :)

We eat the apple butter on toast, and on sandwiches with peanut butter or cream cheese. Also on corn bread or pancakes. Mama Pea recently posted a Jam Dandy muffin recipe I want to try it with. Very tasty no matter what you do with it!

Cynthia, oh yes, the handle is great! I'm just relieved to know they're still being made and available.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Hi Leigh, a bushel of Apples :o) makes many pies and other goodies..and that peeler is a great helper..I have one of those do-dads that you sit a pot on, Only thing mine doesn't have a handle! I use it to help keep things from sticking also. I don't remember where I got mine but I wish I had another..Ginny

Leigh said...


I'm hoping for another gift of apples this year as well, LOL

The gadget is a heat diffuser. One of my readers knew what it was called. If you do a search for that, you'll come up with plenty to purchase. Here's one at Amazon, tin heat diffuser. There are also cast iron ones which sound like they'll last forever!