Thursday, August 11, 2011

La Pomme e Pomodoro

My father was a strange and adventurous eater.

There was nothing that he wouldn't try and some of the things he ate on a regular basis made one scratch his head on more than one occasion. (Stale popcorn in a glass of milk was not the least of these.)

I can still see him with a bowl of small curd Michigan brand cottage cheese topped by a mound of apple butter. What was that about? As I later learned, it was about his Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. Years later we went to a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant in Wisconsin called Millie's that served homemade bread with Schmearkase and apple butter to go with. The cottage cheese was my father's substitute for the German soft cheese which I later learned to make. I can never think of apple butter now without thinking of my father and how in his final years, I used to send a jar of homemade Gravenstein apple butter back home for him to have a little happiness and remembrance. I dedicate this recipe to my dad. I know he's looking down and smiling. Miss ya, Derd.

Apple Butter

5 pounds of juicy tart apples

1 cup water

1/4 cup sugar (white or brown) for every cup of apple pulp you end up with

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Wash, core and cut up apples into large chunks and place in a large kettle along with the cup of water over medium heat and cook until soft stirring quite frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and let cool enough to work with and put through a food mill adding 1/4 cup of sugar to each cup of pulp. Return pulp to kettle with the spices and simmer until the sugar melts. Increase heat and stir constantly until the apple butter mounds on the back of a spoon (just about 220°F /104°C). Ladle into clean hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head space for half-pint jars and 1/2 inch for pints. Adjust lids and place in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Several years ago I stopped canning whole tomatoes altogether choosing instead to make passata, tomato puree, as I use it more than I do whole tomatoes which, if I really need them, are available canned. (I have found that La Valle, an Italian brand, is very good and worth the extra money.) As I stated on the show Monday, every Italian has his own recipe for passata which is the only true way to make it. This is my version...


Roma tomatoes

Wash and cut tomatoes.
Cook in pot until soft.
Put through food mill.
Cook down to desired consistency.
Add 1/4 teaspoon citric acid to each pint jar.
Fill with puree
Add 1/2 teaspoon salt
Wipe rim
Put on lid
Put on screw top
Process in boiling water bath for 40 min. (That's 40 min after water has returned to a boil.)
Remove, set on a towel and wait to hear the magic sound of the lid inverting.

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