Our friend Sarah is quite intrepid at putting things by, and in the process of teaching herself how to can a while back, stumbled across a recipe for canned apples with red hots. Well, when she mentioned it to us, we decided that we all simply had to try it. It wasn’t apple season, though, when we started making plans for it, so we had to bide our time for almost a year.
Finally, at long last, it’s fall again, and after a family excursion to pick heaps of apples, Sarah invited us over for the big canning day.
Now, neither Pookie nor I have ever canned anything, so it was very exciting to get to try out this mysterious art for the very first time. The process was pretty simple. Just peel, core and slice a mountain of apples, make a syrup with sugar, water, red hots, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and vinegar (I think that was everything), toss the apples into the syrup, simmer for a few minutes, then pack into prepared jars.
It was a beautiful fall day, and we had a great time in Sarah’s sun-drenched kitchen working on all of those steps. It seems canning isn’t really nearly as scary as it sounds… at least on the front end. Who knows if all of our labors will yield a bunch of pints of botulism.
While Sarah definitely knew her way around a canning set-up, she insisted that she was by no means an expert. And so it was a lovely low-key canning party, at which there wasn’t too much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth when three of our first six cans didn’t seal properly. The recipe book seemed to suggest we shrug it off, return the apples to the pot, and try again.
The only disappointment with this project was that red hots don’t mix well with water. We all visualized, way back when we first heard of the recipe, pretty jars of apple slices with red hots suspended artfully (and brightly red) all around them. Instead, they melted. And even though several red hots in the container Sarah was storing them in had come in contact with some water and melted into big clumps, we still didn’t realize that was going to happen until after the red hots had been stirred into the pot and started turning into syrup. We’re very, very smart that way.
We suppose it’s okay that we didn’t end up with apples studded with solid red hots in the end, because a pretty pink syrup is almost as good. And either way, the product was delicious.
Even with some failed seals and having to re-can half the apples, the whole process was so simple and fun that we decided to make a second variety of canned apples, this time with dried cherries and golden raisins.
With just a little bit of work, we ended up turning 14 pounds of apples into 10 beautiful jars of tasty treats. And, as we always do when we’re at Sarah’s house, we had a fantastic time. She and her husband Paul have such a lovely home, with so many wonderful things to photograph, and far more importantly, they’re such a fun family. What a great day!