Slow Cooker Fruit Butters

The garden I play in came with an established orchard—primarily apple trees. With little effort on our part, we always seem to end the growing season with far more boxes of apples than we need. After we’ve eaten our fill, I always store a box or two of whole, unblemished apples for eating out of hand. Then I make as much applesauce as my canning shelves can hold. By November, I’m salvaging the fruit in the remaining boxes to create apple butter.

Fruit butters capture all of the flavor of your chosen fruit. Often seen as finicky, they’re traditionally prone to burning and need endless stirring during their lengthy cooking time. I avoided them for years but then discovered a slow cooker variation. I fell for the hands-off, burnproof technique that let me dump a bunch of fruit into my Crock-Pot, leave it to cook for hours, and return to find a perfect blend ready for the canning kettle.
Learn to make Any-Fruit Butter and Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Advertisements

Processed Green Tomatoes

When I asked members of the Twice as Tasty Facebook group for recipes they’d like to see on the blog, green tomato requests poured in. I try to ripen my late-season tomatoes and eat the stubborn ones fresh, so my green tomato repertoire was limited. Perfecting long-term storage of green tomatoes called for experimentation, practice—and some unannounced taste testing at Twice as Tasty-catered events.

After sampling a range of pickled and fermented green tomatoes and salsa, sauce, relish, and chutney recipes, a few trends appeared. Pickled greenies are best stored in the refrigerator, where they never feel the heat of a boiling water bath and retain their shape and texture. Salsas could go either way. If you can’t create Grilled Tomatillo Salsa, you can process a green tomato salsa—but I prefer it fresh. In contrast, processing is ideal for a thick, rich chutney.
Learn to make Curried and Pickled Green Tomatoes and Green Tomato Chutney

Beets

Root vegetables are ideal for roasting. Beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic—all take on a range of flavors missing from a raw or boiled preparation. The hidden sugars rise to the surface and caramelize, and the oven’s enclosed, indirect heat intensifies flavors. High-temperature roasting seals the surface, leaving the interior soft and moist, while low heat deters mushiness. Either way, the result is delicious.

Most root vegetables can be roasted in the same way: Cut them into pieces, coat them with some oil so that they cook rapidly and don’t stick to the pan, and spread them evenly and turn them occasionally for consistent cooking. Even beets and garlic can be roasted in this way. But I like to wrap these vegetables whole in foil, let this bonus layer and their natural skins seal in their juices and flavor, and then remove the skins and cut them down to size at the end.
Learn to roast beets and make Roasted Beet and Cheese Salad

Any-Fruit Jam

Sweetness defines jams—and sometimes overpowers them. To my mind, a jam that leaves a lingering coat of sugar on your tongue misses the point: savor the fruits of summer. Making fruit-forward jam is simple once you understand a bit of the science behind it.

Fruit needs three things to set, or thicken, a spreadable consistency: acid, sugar, and pectin. Think of the molecular interactions in fruit like a high-school romance: Pectin molecules are attracted to water, but water is attracted to sugar. If water and sugar “hook up,” the pectin molecules will bond—with a little encouragement from their best friend, acid—and the jam will thicken.

The traditional method of encouraging this interaction is to throw enough sugar into the batch to distract all the water molecules. But more sugar is not the only option. An acidic pectin, like one based on citrus fruits, is an effective matchmaker for pectin molecules. Another method to encourage pectin couplings is to reduce the pool of available water molecules.
Learn to make Any-Fruit Jam without Added Pectin and Any-Fruit Jam with Added Pectin