Monday, August 30, 2010

Crabs and Balls Insanity

This has been a cooking up a storm week for me because the weather hasn't been great and the house needed some warming up. Yikes - I can't actually believe I am saying that I had to warm up the house so early in the year! It has been cool, especially at night, and I really don't want to turn that furnace on. It goes against everything to turn it on before October. Almost blasphemy to think such a thought!

Hubby and I went over to our daughter's and picked a primary (a large vertical tub used for making wine) full of crabapples. We came home and I washed and topped and tailed them, then divided them between 2 primaries to make crabapple juice. I dumped in twice as much boiling water as there were crabs and a half a box of cream of tartar in each. I covered them with a cheerful checkered tablecloth and left them to soak overnight . Twenty-four hours later, I fished them out and moved the crabs to my big turkey roaster and then into the oven to cook through. I took the strained juice and simmered it until it was a mouth-watering, aromatic golden amber colour. Finally, I added some sugar until my tastebuds no longer imploded and it had a nice fresh bite. I poured the juice into 29 sterile sealers and let the sealers sit until the lids popped. Done.

Now, it was time to make applesauce from the baked crabs. I got out the Foley food mill and ran them through. I had enough sauce to make 9 trays of fruit leather, twice over. (I sweetened it with some warmed honey and added some cinnamon and nutmeg - all to taste.) They smell divine and taste pretty good - not super sweet but good- like eating applesauce. I gave the first batch of leather to my oldest for her lunches and some of the juice to take back home in return for giving me all those crabs. The rest I will wrap and freeze for later in the winter for our bag lunches. Now both the house and the garage smell great because of the crabs (the dehydrator is in the garage) doing their thing.

After finishing with the crabapples, I had about 140 apples from our tree to cook down. These I turned into applesauce. I stemmed, cored, and cut off the blossom ends and threw them into a pot with a bit of leftover crab juice and lemon juice to cook down. I ran them through the Foley food mill and have a lovely applesauce all spiced and ready to eat this winter.

I was happy I did all that because I still had four grocery sacks of apples to deal with from the church ladies. I made these into an apple pie filling that I make every year. It is so easy and so flavorful to use. It is especially nice during the winter for apple crisp, pies or whenever we have unexpected company for dinner because it is simply a matter of dumping the frozen apple pie filling into a bowl, zapping it to soften and spreading it into a dish with some oatmeal for a quick crisp that is comforting and good. I was able to make a huge (almost as big as my turkey roaster kind of huge) bowl of pie filling!

I only wish that my tomatoes were doing half as well as my daughter's crabs and my apples. I have so few that we have only eaten 5 - yes - only 5 tomatoes have ripened so far!!! This is just heartbreaking for me because I usually have enough to make salsa, chili sauce, spaghetti sauce and plain tomato sauce, besides enough to eat them everyday for lunch until November. I just cringe at the thought of having to buy pre-made sauces and hard tomatoes this winter. Groan. This darn global warming is darn chilly here on the prairies and the humidity has encouraged all sorts of blights that are attacking my plants...

So today I headed downstairs to grab a can of pineapple to make some pineapple sweet and sour meatballs for supper. No pineapple. I already had the meatballs cooking/browning in the oven. What to do? I went on the net and found a recipe for a sweet and sour that called for cranberries and chili sauce. Hmm. I knew I had some cranberry sauce left from that turkey the other day and some chili sauce that I had canned up last year. It sounded like the weirdest concoction to me but hey! who am I to doubt all the multitude of similiar recipes that professed its exceptional flavour? I mixed equal amounts of them together and it looked like someone puked in my bowl - really. It was hard to taste but I closed my eyes and ... it is actually really, really good! Now, I have to do a sell job on it - hopefully it will look much better once it cooks.

The cranberry chili sauced meatballs are a hit - everyone really liked them. Thank goodness! They were so quick to make and in the end, looked pretty good after they cooked for a bit and I didn't even have to do a sell job. Life is so good!


  1. I lov this time of year. The smell of apples is just irresistable. I've never heard of crabapple juice. What an idea! That was quite a lot of work you did in a short time. Well worth it in the end I bet.

  2. Cranberry chili meatballs actually sounds more appealing than the pineapple ones, to tell you the truth. Is there nothing that cranberries don't make awesome?

    Well done on all the crab apple work! You realize that you make me feel extremely lazy, don't you?

  3. I just can't imagine so many apples :-)

  4. I find it extremely relaxing to do my canning Laurita - there is no burning necessity for it - I just do it because I enjoy it. I especially enjoy it in the middle of a cold Manitoba winter because it makes me think of summer.

    Barb, you are right about the cranberry sauce, one can't go wrong with it - even made a wild cranberry pie once when I thought I was making a saskatoon pie - they look the same when they are frozen, taste quite different though. You are a part of my hubby's family - lazy isn't in your gene pool.

    Jamie Lynn - Yeah, it was a lot of apples but they are just so nice to put up for the winter.

  5. Cool! I wanted to know how to make crabapple juice, and VOILA! I guess you could make jelly from the juice as well with more sugar and pectin.

    This week, I've made raspeberry jam with berries from my garden, and two batches of peach jam with fruit from a local farm. I'll make another batch of each this weekend. Apples just coming in now -- do you just freeze your sauce?

    Yum. Feeling very slow cookery now... Peace...

  6. Linda, you will want to reduce the juice down a bit for jelly. I do freeze my applesauce and pie fillings. They seem to do perfectly fine and the texture remains good after I cook the pie filling.
    I have never made peach jam but it sounds wonderful and raspberry jam is my all-time favourite jam - your house must be smelling divine!