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Maple Applesauce from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

So far this summer, I’ve written four pairs of posts in partnership with my friends at Ball®Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands. In May, it was all about their Mixed Berry Jam and the Jammy Baked Oatmeal I made with it. In June, we focused in on Honey Cinnamon Pears and the Honey Cinnamon Pear Sorbet I turned them into.

For July, the starter recipe was Kosher Dill Pickle Spears (so crisp and tangy!) and the transformation was a batch of Pasta and Kosher Dill Pickle Salad. Last month, I shared their life changing recipe for Roasted Garlic Roma Tomato Sauce and then used it to make a really lovely Summer Vegetable Braise.

This month, they’ve asked me to focus on apples. This is not a hard assignment, as apples are one of my very favorite things to eat and preserve. My starter recipe is Maple Applesauce, which is what I’m going to walk you through today. Make sure to check back tomorrow for the Chocolate Applesauce Muffins I use it in!

To start, gather up 12 pounds of apples. There is no one best variety of apple for making applesauce, but I do find that I like the flavor best when a sauce contains at least two or three varieties of apple. Using a diverse assortment of apples means you’ll end up with a more complex-tasting sauce.

Once you’ve chosen your apples, cut them in quarters and heap them in a large pot. In selecting the pot you use to cook down the apples, know that you’ll want about one quart of capacity for every pound of fruit you’re using. As you can see, 12 pounds of apple quarters fit pretty neatly into my 12 quart stock pot.

Pour a cup of water into the bottom of the stock pot and tuck a cinnamon stick or two in with the apples. You just want enough liquid so that the apples don’t scorch at the start of the cooking process (this means, if a single cup isn’t going to cover the bottom of your pot, use a splash more). Then, you cook. Every apple is going to have a different cooking time, so you just let the apples simmer over medium-low heat until they’re all soft.

In the case of this batch, the green apples I used were tender after just 20 minutes of cooking, but the red apples needed nearly an hour of gentle heat before they softened sufficiently.

Now, you may have noticed that I didn’t peel or core my apples before cooking. That’s because I have a Ball® freshTECH HarvestPro™ Sauce & Salsa Maker. Fitted with the standard screen, this machine makes really quick work of the cooked apples. It easily separates sauce from the less edible bits, and creates a gorgeously uniform texture (just make sure to remove the cinnamon sticks prior to milling the sauce). If you don’t have one of these appliances, you can either use a manual food mill, or you can peel and core prior to cooking, and then break the apples up into a more rustic sauce using a potato masher.

When you’ve gotten the sauce to your desired texture and you’ve returned it to the pot, it’s time to sweetened with a bit of maple syrup. Know that maple syrup is a lower acid sweetener, so it needs to be used carefully in canning. Happily, in this sauce the ratio of high acid apples to the lower acid syrup is such that the sauce remains perfectly safe for canning.

Simmer the sauce down for about ten minutes, to ensure that it’s quite thick and that it’s piping hot when you fill up the jars.

While the apples cook down, prepare a boiling water bath and sufficient jars for the sauce. Once you judge that the sauce is done, remove one jar from the canner. Funnel in some of the applesauce, filling to 1/2 inch headspace. Stir with a wooden or plastic chopstick to remove any trapped air bubbles. Wipe the rim, apply a lid and ring, and place the jar back in the canner. Repeat with the remaining jars and sauce.

These jars are processed for 25 minutes at a full rolling boil (remember, if you live at elevation, you need to adjust your processing time accordingly). When the time is up, remove the lid, turn off the heat, and let the jars cool slowly in the canner for 5 minutes. Once that time is up, remove the jars from the canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel. Once the jars are entirely cool, check them to ensure that the jars have sealed fully and completely.

The total yield on my batch was 20 cups of product, which is a bit higher than the yield suggested by the recipe (yield variation at work!). I opted to use Pint & Half jars to contain 9 pints of the product (this left me with 6 jars in total), and left that final pint out to use in the muffins (check back for that recipe tomorrow!) and for immediate snacking.

Click here to get the recipe for Maple Applesauce!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Newell Brands as part of a compensated partnership. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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Summer Vegetable Braise with Roasted Garlic Roma Tomato Sauce

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Yesterday, I showed you how to make the Roasted Garlic Roma Tomato Sauce from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products. This thick, flavorful sauce is a winner, because it’s both easy to make (the roasting/grilling step makes the tomatoes so easy to peel) and because it’s so versatile once in the jar.

It could easily replace the jars of store bought sauce we all keep around for nights when we can’t manage much, but it also can be used as a component in a longer cooking dish as well. That’s what I’ve done here. I’ve taken this tasty sauce and have combined it with some of the summer veg that’s so abundant right now. The result? A hearty, meatless braise that is simple to make but nice enough to serve to company.

You start the way so many of these things start. But warming a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a roomy pot and adding a chopping onion. Once that onion begins to color, you add a cubed eggplant (no need to salt or drain) and stir it well into the onions, so that it will also start to brown a bit. Then you add the zucchini and a couple crushed garlic cloves and work them in.

Once all the veg has had a chance to brown and soften a little, you add a quart of the Roasted Garlic Roma Tomato Sauce. Pour a cup of water into the jar and swirl it around well (so as not to leave behind even a bit of that flavor) and pour it into the pot as well. Give everything a good stir, reduce the heat to medium-low so that you maintain a very slow, lazy simmer, put a lid on the pot, and cook for about an hour. You want to stir occasionally to ensure that the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn, but otherwise it’s very hands off.

When the hour is up, remove the lid from the pot, turn the heat up to medium, and simmer a little more vigorously to cook off any water the braising process brought to the surface of the stew. Once it is as thick as you’d like it, taste to ensure that the seasoning levels are good. Finally, you are ready to serve.

I like to ladle this braise over a puddle of freshly cooked polenta (simmer 1 part coarse cornmeal with 4 parts salted water, until creamy and quite thick). If I don’t have the time to cook polenta, I’ll toss it with cooked penne or gemelli. Topped with a pinch of grated parmesan cheese, it makes a lovely late summer meal.

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Roasted Garlic Roma Tomato Sauce from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

So far this summer, I’ve written three pairs of posts in partnership with my friends at Ball®Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands. In May, it was all about their Mixed Berry Jam and the Jammy Baked Oatmeal I made with it. In June, we focused in on Honey Cinnamon Pears and the Honey Cinnamon Pear Sorbet I turned them into. Last month, the starter recipe was Kosher Dill Pickle Spears (so crisp and tangy!) and the transformation was a batch of Pasta and Kosher Dill Pickle Salad.

This month, we’re talking tomatoes. In my area, they are finally starting to show up at farmers markets with heady abundance. I am buying them 10 or 25 pounds at a time in order to put up enough various tomato products to get me through the year (my goal is to do enough tomato puree, whole peeled, and salsa to get me through to next August).

I am also going to make room for several more batches of this Roasted Garlic Roma Tomato Sauce from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products because it is super flavorful. This recipe uses a peeling technique that I’d heard about but never tried before. Instead of blanching the tomatoes in a large pot of water, you broil them (I cut mine in half prior to broiling so that I didn’t have to turn them)! It worked so well. The recipe says you can also do it on the grill, which would be a great way to keep all that heat out of the house.

Once the tomatoes are peeled, you squeeze out the seeds, chop them roughly and heap them in a pot (the tomatoes you see pictured above were just the peeled halves. I seeded and chopped after this).

Once the tomatoes are prepped, you add some chopped onion, three heads of roasted garlic, fresh basil and oregano, and a little salt. Heat to a low simmer and cook until thoroughly warmed through (I confess, I reduced mine a little as the tomatoes put off a good bit of water).

While the sauce heats, prepare a boiling water bath canner and three quart jars.

Once you judge that the sauce is done, remove one jar from the canner. Add 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (you could also use 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice if you prefer), and funnel in some of the sauce, filling to 1/2 inch headspace. Stir with a wooden or plastic chopstick to remove any trapped air bubbles. Wipe the rim, apply a lid and ring, and place the jar back in the canner. Repeat with the remaining jars and sauce.

These jars are processed for 40 minutes at a full rolling boil (remember, if you live at elevation, you need to adjust your processing time accordingly). When the time is up, remove the lid, turn off the heat, and let the jars cool slowly in the canner. Once that time is up, remove the jars from the canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel. Once the jars are entirely cool, check them to ensure that the jars have sealed fully and completely.

This sauce is a great pantry builder, because it can be heated and served over pasta, polenta, or sauteed greens. I like to use it in combination with zucchini and eggplant, for a tasty summer vegetable braise. Check back for that recipe tomorrow!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Newell Brands as part of a compensated partnership. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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Honey Cinnamon Pear Sorbet

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Yesterday, I showed you how to make Honey Cinnamon Pears. A building block of the homemade pantry, these pears are great at breakfast (in oatmeal! over pancakes!), lunch (with yogurt! in a smoothie!), or dinner (sliced over salad! as dessert!).

In addition to being something that you can serve straight from the jar, home canned pears can also be a really useful ingredient in other dishes and recipes. I often puree them and use them in baked goods (the same way you would use applesauce) and I love to turn them into homemade sorbet.

With the arrival of the hot weather, I’ve got my ice cream maker out for the season and have been turning any fruit I can get my hands on into heat-beating desserts. Because the primary ingredient in this sorbet is just fruit, the finished product is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without overdoing it. Sorbet is also a really thoughtful treat to make for dinner guests who can’t eat dairy.

You start with one quart or two pints of canned fruit. In this case, I canned my pears in Ball® Sharing Jars. and so I opened up two jars (you should have approximately three cups of fruit and one cup of canning liquid). The contents of these jars goes into the blender with 1/4 cup of sugar and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice and you puree it until really smooth (really work them so that the skin gets fully pureed).

Then taste the puree to ensure that the flavors are well balanced. Add more lemon if you find that the flavor is a little flat. If you can’t taste the cinnamon as much as you’d like, add a pinch of ground. Remember also that the puree should be a little sweeter than you’d like if you were eating it at room temperature. Freezing mutes the sweetness and if you want it to taste satisfyingly sweet once frozen, the base needs to be a little extra.

Chill the sorbet base until it is quite cold. Once it is well-chilled, you pour it into an ice cream maker and freeze it until firm. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can also pour it into a loaf pan and freeze it granita-style, scraping it with a fork several times during the freezing process to help aerate and break up the mixture.

The end result is a frozen dessert that is surprisingly creamy for something that doesn’t contain any dairy. It has pleasingly mild flavor that is really refreshing and cooling. I hope you try it!

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Honey Cinnamon Pears from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Last month, I teamed up with my friends at Ball®Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands to share their recipe for Mixed Berry Jam and the Jammy Baked Oatmeal that I made with it. This month, we’re talking pears.

Honey Cinnamon Pears, to be precise. In this recipe, quartered pears are briefly simmered in a syrup made from apple juice and honey before being packed into Ball® Pint Jars with a cinnamon stick, topped with the syrup, and processed in a boiling water bath. It’s a really easy and approachable recipe (no peeling!) that produces perfectly sweet pears kissed with a hint of cinnamon.

To make these pears, start by getting your jars warming in the canning pot (for this project, I used the Ball® Sharing Jars). Fit your canning pot with a rack, place the jars on top and fill both the jars and the pot halfway with water. Bring it to a simmer over low heat and keep it around 180F until you are ready to fill the jars. Wash lids and rings in hot, soapy water and set them aside.

Once your canning gear is all set, you turn your attention to the pears. Wash them well (make sure to remove any stickers!), cut them into quarters, and cut away the cores.

As you work, place the cut pears into a bowl of acidulated water (that’s a fancy word for water spiked with either lemon juice or Fruit Fresh) to prevent the pears from browning.

Once the pears are prepped, make the syrup. Combine water, apple juice, and honey in a large saucepan (you want to use something large enough to eventually hold all the pears.

When the syrup comes to a simmer, add the pears to the pot and let them stay in the syrup just until they’re heated through (too much time in the syrup will lead them to overcook and fall apart, so stay attentive).

As soon as the pears are warm, it’s time to fill the jars. Remove a single jar from the canning pot and place it on a folded towel or cutting board. Place a cinnamon stick in the bottom of the jar and funnel the warm pear quarters into the jars. Use a chopstick to help settle them into place (I found that I could get 6-7 pear quarters into each jar).

Top the pears with the syrup and remove any trapped air bubbles, taking care to maintain a headspace of 1/2 inch. Wipe the rim of the jar, place a lid on top, secure it with a ring (finger tip tight, please), get that jar in the canner, and repeat with the next jar.

These pears are good to eat with yogurt or cottage cheese. You can warm them and serve them over pancakes or waffles. Or you could turn them into sorbet. Check back tomorrow to learn how to do just that!

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Mixed Berry Jam from Ball® Fresh Preserving Products

This post is sponsored by Ball® Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands.

Nearly every summer since 2012, I’ve been issued a preserving challenge by my friends at Ball®Fresh Preserving Products by Newell Brands. Some years, they’ve asked me to develop a few new canning recipes. Other years, I’ve trekked to New York or Indiana to offer canning demos. This year, I’m really excited because they’ve given me a handful of their most popular recipes and asked me to create new ways to use them (a concept that’s much like my upcoming book!).

So from now until September, once a month I’ll be sharing my process for making the preserve and then unveiling a recipe that transforms it into something new and delicious. For this first month, the preserve was Mixed Berry Jam (I preserved it in some of the Ball® Smooth Sided Half-Pint Jars pictured above and available for purchase here. These are the best jars for labeling!).

Right off the bat, I was delighted with their pick of recipe. It’s a relatively small batch, with a short, simple ingredient list. I also know berry jams to be really versatile, so I knew I’d be able to make something interesting with it.

You start by washing and mashing enough fruit to yield 4 cups. For me, this wound up being about 1 3/4 pounds fruit (I used single 1 pound package of strawberries, and 1 1/2 clamshells of blueberries).

You want to make sure you have your jars warming and the lids washed before you start cooking the jam, because the cook time is quite short and you do want the jars to be ready for you when you’re ready for them.

Once the berries are well-mashed, they get scraped into a large pan. You add the pectin powder (4 1/2 tablespoons), stir well to combine and bring the fruit to a boil, stirring constantly.

Always take care when moving pots of hot jam!

Once the fruit is boiling madly, you stream in the sugar and stir to combine. Bring that to a rapid boil and cook for just a minute longer. Once the time is up, you pull the pot from the stove. As it starts to cool from the boiling point, you should see visible signs of set, both on the spatula and the walls of the pot.

Then, working one at a time, fill each jar to 1/4 inch headspace, wipe the rim clean with a damp cloth, and apply a new, clean lid and ring. When all jars are full, process them in a boiling water bath canner for ten minutes (adjusting your processing time for altitude, if necessary).

The finished jam is well-set, brightly flavored, and gorgeously colored. Click here to see the Jammy Baked Oatmeal I made with this jam!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Newell Brands as part of a compensated partnership. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. 

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