I definitely need more practice with this preserving thing. For years, my preserving skills have been limited to blanching and freezing. Just last season I overcame my fear of the pressure canner, and started doing some basic canning of plain vegetables. This year, I tried to be brave and branch out into apple pie filling in a jar and juicing apples, as well as canning the basics.
I am going to blame my work schedule and the chronic extreme sleep deprivation I suffer from for the chaos that ensued.
I suppose I could blame a complete lack of planning, as well. And the general crowded condition of my kitchen (which is strange, cuz it's a big kitchen).
Imagine, if you will, a tired, cranky Barefoot standing among bags of apples in her crowded kitchen. Kids are running in and out, Mr. Barefoot is calling out requests for apple crisp and apple pie from the dining room. That Damn Cat is crying and whining for treats. The stove top is covered. The steam juicer is steaming, jars are sterilizing, pie filling is bubbling, and apples are softening for apple butter.
So there I was, in this barely controlled craziness. I was dashing between pots and pans, food mill, and apple peeler. Space considerations in the fridge required that I peel/slice/core only as many apples as I could manage to process and can at one time. A few hours into it, things just started to go wrong.
I knocked over the food mill, ruining my recipe book that was sitting on the counter next to it with juicy apple pulp. I burned myself more times than I could count. I (somehow, still trying to figure this out) turned up the heat on the steam juicer, boiling it dry and causing some SERIOUS blackening on the bottom pan. Did I mention that the juicer was borrowed? And less than a year old? I spilled the pie filling - sticky, nasty pie filling - all over the stove top and counter. My apple butter ended up more spiced apple sauce. Tasty, but not what I was looking for.
End result? I got mad. I got frustrated. I am done, for now, with apples. I have picked out the best of the picked apples to keep fresh for Little Sprout, but the rest of them are either getting composted or given to Grandma (who has much more experience dealing with this stuff).
And I will spend the rest of the year figuring out how I could make sure this doesn't happen next year.
On the bright side, I found a fabulous recipe for jarred pie filling. I found out that if you boil 50/50 vinegar/water, let it cool just enough that you can get your hand in it, and gently scrub, you can clean even the nastiest blackened mess out of the bottom of stainless steel. And I managed to put up quite a few jars of apple goodness for munching over the winter. And I gotta say, that spiced apple butter/sauce is going to be FABULOUS over pancakes.