Taste Your Harvest
I love kitchen life in my hands; stirring apple butter as it comes to the boil; lifting sterilized jars out of the canner. How more fruit stares me down from a work bowl across the table, waiting their turn as apple rings in the dehydrator; how the low grey clouds shelter the day. These things.
All the canning jars and lids sterilized, laid out as for surgery, and noticing how my shoulders still tense after all these years, anticipating the stress between boiling water and precision.
When did I first make apple butter? I don’t remember, but it was early on. Maybe I was 22. Nobody taught me. I’d picked up canning basics from my Grandmother as a teen, but beyond that it was quiet learning, only apples and cookbooks as guides.
Later, in my thirties, I made apple butter in my 1920s oven, on Berry Hill. Stirring every ½ hour, opening the door with its yawning creak and pulling out the deep blue, speckled, roasting pan. In those days, I’d finish it with white wine and lemon zest
For the past decade, I’ve used a crock pot; filling it with cored apples and cooking them down. Then I’ll puree, bringing the sauce to a simmer, and letting it reduce overnight with the lid sideways, so the juices evaporate. I add nothing to the butter anymore because I want to taste — apples. The concentrated essence of everything they were: early bee visits, ripening summer afternoon.
These apples, coveted Gravensteins, came from the orchard of an elderly couple. They let us come and glean. I’ll give them several jars, because it’s right to taste your harvest spread on toast all winter.
Two Apple Pie Recipes to Lust After Port Townsend Food Coop
Sidonie Maroon is a Recipe Developer, Food Writer, Chef and Culinary Educator.She also blogs at her recipe site: abluedotkitchen.com and for the Port Townsend Food Coop