And we are (finally after some technical issues) back for the last segment of our 3 part series…canning that delicious apple butter!!
If you have never canned anything before, let me tell you, it’s easier than it looks. (Even though this post is going to be pretty long…I think it takes longer to explain than to do) There’s a few things you really need to know going into this. First, you’re going to need some stuff. And I’m not just talkin’ jars (but, yeah you need those too). There’s all sorts of accessories for the canning process. Some necessary, some convenient. You can go about getting this stuff in 2 ways: #1 Buy some stuff -or- #2 makeshift some stuff. Here’s what I mean…
#1 Buy some stuff
You could purchase a complete set. Something like this…
A pot, a rack, a jar lifter, a funnel, a lid lifter, and some other things that I’m not even sure what they are.
#2 Makeshift Some Stuff
Who needs a rack when you can make this?!
I made this out of leftover jar rings and twisty ties. So simple. Some sort of rack is a must, so the glass jars don’t bang into each other and break when being boiled, and this is a great solution (and free if you have extra rings!)
You need a way to get the jars and lids out of boiling water, and you can get by with wrapping a few rubber bands around each side of a set of tongs, making them non-slip. Then use that to lift the jars out, or pick up the jar lids.
-OR- #3 (new option!) Do what I did, and use a combination of purchased and makeshift items.
I bought this set from Sur la Table (the most dangerously delightful kitchen store ever!) for $20
I chose this one mainly because it had the items I needed. I already had a large pot and I made that nifty rack, so I really needed the jar lifter (I found the tongs method to be a little tough with heavy full jars) and the special wide mouth funnel (made things a lot less messy). The bonus was the magnetic wand for picking up the jar lids out of boiling water. It is a necessity? No. Is it super convenient? Yes!
Okay, now that we have stuff…let’s get to the canning!!
It’s important to know that the reason for canning (and the reason that these foods can be in a pantry instead of in the fridge) is that, when done properly, the process kills off any bacteria that might spoil the food. This means sterility is a big deal here. So first things first, you need to clean all of your jars and sterilize them. If you have a dishwasher, this is as simple as pushing go. I don’t have a dishwasher (sob!) so I’ll give you the full stove top directions:
Fill your large pot with water, and get it boiling. While waiting, gather everything you need, including your washed jars and lids. I always prepare more jars than I think I will need, just incase. This time, I used a combination of 8oz and 4 oz jars, so I would have some small ones to share with friends and family.
Once boiling, drop your rack into the bottom of the pot, and submerge the jars.
Boil the jars for at least 10 minutes to sterilize them.
While the jars are boiling, get a small pot of water to a boil, and drop in the flat metal lids (not the rings). These should boil for about 5 minutes. This will both sterilize them, and soften the sealing compound, which is crucial for a good seal.
Once everything is hot and sterilized, it’s time to fill the jars.
Using the jar lifter, pull out one of the jars and empty any water.
Set it on a safe surface (I use a cork hotplate), and put the funnel on top. Spoon the hot apple butter into the funnel. (Note: it is important that whatever you are canning is hot when added to the jars. Hot glass can crack when exposed to cold. Danger!) Leave about 1/4 inch at the top of the jar. The guides on the funnel will help here. Try to remove any air bubbles by gently tapping the jar on the corkboard, or use a knife and slowly stir.
Wipe off the top of the jar, incase there is any spillage (which could ruin the seal). Then using the lid wand, grab one of the lids out of the boiling water.
Place the lid on top of the jar (reposition if needed), and screw on the ring. The jar will be very hot, so use a towel or oven mitts to protect your hands. Once securely screwed back together, return the jar to the large pot of boiling water. Continue this process with as many jars as you can fill. Boil the filled jars for 10-15 minutes. If there is not enough apple butter to completely fill your last jar, you can simply close it up and refrigerate that one without boiling it.
Once the jars have been boiled, remove them all and set aside to cool completely. This could take several hours, so I leave mine to sit overnight.
You will at some point hear a popping noise coming from each jar. This is a
good GREAT thing! That means you did everything right, and your seals have taken properly. Once your jars have cooled completely, check to make sure that you cannot push down the button on the top of the lid. I also remove the ring and give the lid a gentle tug. It shouldn’t budge. I also wipe off any access moisture from under the ring, so nothing rusts, then replace them.
The last thing I do is give each jar a good wiping down (mine always seem to have a white powdery film on them, from hard water), then use a sharpie to label the lid with the item in the jar, and the date (the lids are one time use anyway). Then I tuck them away in the pantry.
Doesn’t the apple butter look so at home next to my strawberry jam?
That’s it! Now you can share (or not) your lovely homemade apple butter with others. Honestly, mine is already gone, so I’ll have to make another batch soon!
If you would like to see the other steps we made towards making and canning the apple butter check out the first two posts:
I would love to know what is everyone’s favorite thing to can? I have done strawberry jam and apple butter now, so what should I try next?!