G’mornin Jammers! I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween/All Hallows Eve/Dia De Los Muertos. It’s the time of year around here that we like to honor our ancestors and all those that have walked this earth before us. I spent lots of time thinking and remembering all the great times I had with my great-grandmother, my Grannie. She would love all the new jams and flavors out there now. I would have loved to have sat with her just one more time and munched on one of her fried pies or maybe a bowl of her wonderful sour cherry cobbler. I’m gazing at her picture hanging here in the office, right now…love ya Grannie! Gasp…..I just remembered that I have one of her handmade bonnets and matching aprons in my keepsake box that she made for my mom. Grannie would always put on one of her bonnets to go to the garden and a matching apron. Maybe I’ll pull them out for a picture or two.
I wanted to post the last recipe that I made, weekend before last. My inspiration came from a fellow food blogger, Tigress. See her post at http://tigressinajam.blogspot.com/2010/10/ancho-apple-butter.html . Her apple butter recipe is different from mine, so, I decided to stay with what I like and just modify my own. Did you know peppers have a heat scale they are rated on? It’s called the Scoville Heat Index and it ranks peppers from zero (Green Bell Peppers) to one million (an extremely rare Ghost Pepper is rated at over one million and is the hottest pepper in the world). Usually one of the hottest that is used on a day-to-day basis is a Habanero Chili which rates at 150,000 - 350,000. Jalapenos usually rate around 2,000 to 5,000+. Anchos, like I used in this recipe, rate under Jalapenos at around 1,000 - 1,500. I love their smoky flavor and always keep a pouch on hand from our favorite spice shop in Old Town, St. Augustine. We’ve been known to drive the 45 minutes there just to pick up various salts we ran out of. They have an amazing Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt that is fabulous on meat and my son loves his big block of Bolivian Rose that he uses a tiny grater with. Back to the chili peppers though, did you know that the term Ancho refers to the dried version of the Poblano Pepper (just like to chipotle being the smoked version of a jalapeno)? I didn’t.
The associations related to the apple butter part of this recipe are the same as before. The properties of my apples are choices, (they are used in many ways throughout different cultures and periods as tools for divination), health (haven’t you heard the old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor away?), and love (apple bobbing was originally for boys to bite into the apple of his true love as the girls had polished and marked the apples on the bottoms before floating them in the tub). The cinnamon was for power and spirituality, the allspice was for health and prosperity and the cloves were for health, kinship and love. Apples were one of the main things used back in Victorian times for love charms. Did you ever twist the stem of an apple while chanting the alphabet and what ever letter you were on when the stem popped off was the first letter of the person’s name that you were going to marry? We did it all the time…oh the memories. Peppers, in general, are for protection against negativity. Have you ever seen those long bunches of peppers, usually dried, red ones, strung together and hung in kitchens? Now you know the reason why some folks may choose to hang them in their kitchens. The Ancho along with the Mulato and the true Pasilla form the "holy trinity" of chiles in Mexican culture. In honor of their association as part of a trinity, I am naming this creation my Triple A Butter.
Triple “A” Butter
4 pounds tart apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 cups unsweetened organic apple juice
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground Ancho Pepper powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
Rinse apples in cool water and drain well. Core, peel and chop the apples. Preheat canner, sterilize jars and prepare the lids. In an 8 qt pan combine the apples and apple juice. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the apples are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Press apples and juice through a fine meshed sieve. Return the pulp to the pan and stir in the sugar, butter, Ancho powder, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 30 minutes. As the butter thickens, stir constantly to prevent scorching.
Remove pan from heat and skim off any foam. Fill hot sterilized jars with the butter, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth and add the lids and rings and place jars in preheated canner. Bring canner to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and place on a towel on the counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seal before storing. Use within 12 months.
Makes about 6 half pint jars.
This butter had a perfect texture and will taste wonderful as a final glaze over a slow roasted pork loin. We enjoyed it with peanut butter on sandwiches this past weekend at the Boy Scout event we attended. The heat is perfect and is really more of an aftertaste in the back of your throat. It is a perfect addition to really spice up your traditional apple butter recipe. Again, as with so many of my other creations, this one has MANY possibilities.
I have a blank slate right now as far as my next batch goes. I have quite a few in my book that I want to try but I am getting special requests, too. I want to get the beer and sangria ones made as a trial for holiday gifts but the requestors are adamant for an apple-rum something or a pomegranate something. Guess I better get busy!
On another note, I was at the grocery store this past weekend picking up supplies for my first scratch cheesecake and saw peaches on sale so I picked up enough for a small batch to can. They were pretty firm so I thought they would have a few days to ripen, which was perfect since I was so busy. Well, last night I realized they were quite soft so I picked on up and gave a good long whiff and…nothing, nada! None of them have any fragrance at all. Living in Florida we have some unusual growing seasons compared with the rest of the US, so I thought I may just be picking up a late batch. Boy was I wrong! I will be talking to the produce manager next time I see him. These are simply awful. I decided not to waste jars on fruit that has no smell so I thought I would chop them up and throw a cobbler together tomorrow. I have a basic recipe passed down in my family called Cuppa-Cuppa-Cuppa and peaches are usually my first choice for it. As I chopped them up last night half of them were very brown all the way through but, yet, not spoiled and there was hardly any juice to them. I added some fruit protector and lots of sugar, hoping to make it syrupy enough to use. I covered the bowl and popped it in the fridge…we will see what it’s like later.
Till next week, Be Blessed and Be Sweet!