When you can can, and when you can’t can (apple and pumpkin butter)
Back on the farm…er, subdivision…my domestic weekend went very well. Friday I made and canned 4 pints of applesauce from our windfall apples, and then I set more apples into the crockpot to make apple butter out of. I probably should have left the apple butter on longer (I freaked out and put it on “warm” overnight, which wasn’t high enough to cook it down, because I was afraid “low” on my goofy slow cooker would result in Burned Apple Sludge by morning.), because it had just reached the point of being able to put it in a blob on a saucer and not have juice start to separate and run out. Another hour would have been a good thing…but it still got me 8 half-pint jars of holiday gifts for various teachers and neighbors and stuff. And there was probably about a pint left in the crockpot after the fact, which just made me curious…
So in the spirit of experimentation, I dumped one of the cans of pureed pumpkin that’s been sitting in my cupboard for a year in there with it, added a little more maple syrup and a lot of spices (ginger, allspice, cinnamom, nutmeg–I went heavier on the ginger in the apple-pumpkin version than I did in just the apple version. No exact quantities to give, because I didn’t measure and just tasted a lot), stirred it up good, and let it cook a maybe an hour on low and then on warm all afternoon. By evening I had this lovely small batch of apple-pumpkin butter that I think is honestly better even than the plain apple itself.
The catch, unfortunately, is that you can’t can (pun not intended but sort of cute) pumpkins in a boiling water bath because their acidity level is too low and botulism–which apparently grows really really well in a non-acidic oxygen-free vacuum kind of system, i.e. what boiling water canning gives you–could become very happy and fecund and poison your family. Someday I’m going to find out exactly what pH is safe, and just make sure the acid level is high enough, and give it a try–pumpkin butter on its own wouldn’t work, but it seems like a combo of high acid apples and low acid pumpkin could be negotiated carefully so that one is safe. On the other hand, botulism being fairly horrific and fatal and quick-acting (something I learned in between scenes of drooling over Thomas Gibson on Criminal Minds), I wouldn’t recommend trial and error on this front.
So: for canning in a boiling water bath: Apples good. Squash bad. For squash and other non-acidy things you’d need a pressure canner. Or, heck, a freezer would work just fine. Or you could just eat it fairly quickly. 🙂
I got two jars of the apple-pumpkin butter; we’re keeping one and munching away at it, and we’ll take the other to a neighbor. Yummers.
But I’m tired of being domestic. We may break down and order pizza tonight…