Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pie Apple - bottling apples in the Fowlers Vacola

Remember those apples that were gathered locally  a week or so ago? Putting it off for long enough, I decided it was time to tackle the task of preserving them in some way. No hard decisions were made, they were all going to be bottled, as that is what we enjoyed most from the pantry last year. It was so nice in the middle of winter to pull out a jar of stewed apples for a comforting crumble or pie! Lucky this year I had lots (lots!!) to play with.

Locally foraged apples
I didn't weigh them, but my wrist assures you after cutting them there were several kilos! Lucky as well that I could call on my trusty apple peeler from the opp shop to make peeling them a little easier. Many of the apples had scab (or black spot) on them due to the high humidity levels this year, but once peeled they were quite ok inside.

My handy apple peeler - I wouldn't be without it!
After peeling, they were placed in a weak ascorbic acid solution (bowl of water and crushed up vit.C tablets x 2). They were then quartered and cored and placed in a large, heavy based pot.

Peeled, quartered and cored then soaked in vit.C solution to retain colour
The apples were stewed gently in batches, covered for around 5 minutes, until just tender but still holding their shape. At the same time, a light sugar syrup was prepared with sugar and water at a ratio of 1 part sugar to 3 parts water (I used 3 cups sugar and 9 cups water and had plenty leftover).  This was brought to the boil in another pot.

The stewed apples were placed into cleaned and rinsed out Fowlers Vacola jars, alternating with the syrup and stirring at intervals with a skewer to remove any air bubbles. I left a headspace of around 1cm. The rings and lids were positioned and the clips attached. The jars were then processed in the unit which is basically a big urn that gets filled with water and then heats up. Processing takes one hour, although I like to leave them in there for slightly longer to be sure they have all sealed properly. I also like to preheat the water in the unit a little as well, just to make sure the contents of the jars heats up sufficiently to sterlize both it and the jars.

Sneaking a peak - nearing the end of processing, then it's back on with the lid
Once finished, the jars are removed and left on a wooden board or towel to cool down, undisturbed for around 12 hours. The clips can then be safely removed and the lids checked to ensure they have sealed properly.

Homemade pie apple for winter desserts
Processed in this way, our apples will keep well in a dark cupboard for 12 months. They are the ideal texture and consistancy for a quick dessert of apple crumble or pie. I will drain the sugar syrup away before using the apples by pouring the contents into a sieve.

Since stumbling across this way of preserving about 12 months ago, I can now say that I'm pleased I did. I still use standard stove top waterbathing for smaller jars and selected other preserves but I find that I can pack a lot into these size jars (size 27 - 900ml), and the height of the unit allows the jars to be covered with enough water to ensure proper sterlisation. Rubber ring seals need to be replaced each use while lids and clips can be re-used again and again.

11 comments:

  1. This makes me very happy! Foraged apples, blemished but still good, home preserving, love and slight amounts of arthritis in each jar!

    Looking forward to seeing photos & posts about delicious Winter desserts too once the cool weather arrives... yum, drool-worthy, crumbly, oozy dessert!

    (I have slices of GF apricot pies & plum pies in my freezer still, but being dairy free at the moment, it's been hard to get through them without cream!)

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  2. I've ever seen those jars before - google, here I come!

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  3. Vacola kit is something I've looked at now for a couple of years - it's great to know you recommend it! Love your apple peeler! :)

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  4. I'm glad it makes you happy, dix. Desserts are my favourite part of winter!

    They are pretty handy, quinn. Look for them in second hand shops or ebay, or if you want to buy them new, Mitre 10 usually stock them (I have also seen them in home hardware on the odd occasion too).

    The vacola kit was a good buy, Celia as it accommodates those super large jars. I even came across another unit in the opp shop several months ago for $7 and snapped it up - $7!! Unbelievable. The apple peeler is LOTS of fun and really fast!

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  5. That apple peeler!!!! How cool is that.

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  6. Wow I've never seen canning done that way. That looks great!

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  7. Uhuh! Uhuh! VERY cool, Brydie - such a find, that little gem :)

    It's really straightforward, floweringmama, and handy for when the large jars just won't fit in a boiling water bath :)

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  8. I love the look of your apples in the jars...I have just been given a heap of Fowlers jars, and this is exactly the kind of thing I want to do with them....I just have to find a cheap source of lids and rings. Loving your blog.

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  9. The jars are very handy to have around Narelle. Find a spot to store them though because they seem to have a knack for multiplying! Lids and rings I get from Mitre 10..although I am fairly sure there are people on ebay selling them too...also try Redback Trading? Stainless steel lids will last longer than the tin lids by not rusting and would be worth the investement if you were doing a lot of bottling. Happy preserving! :)

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  10. Have just tried my hand for the very first time with the Fowler's Vacola Year Rounder kit, given to me about 4 years ago. So encouraged by you illustrations. My first time leaves a couple of questions: are the apples that are out of the apple juice ( had way too many apples so used juice as the liquid) still good enough to eat? No idea how the liquid got out of the jars...well it is probably that there was more air in the jars than I had at first realised. Ordered the peeler you show. 6 tall jars took all afternoon to prepare. Thanks again Carol.

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  11. That's fantastic, Carol, there's something so satisfying about preserving your own produce. The apples out of the juice that are sitting inside at the top of the jars is fine, they may discolour slightly over time but they are fine to eat. Hmmm, not sure how the juice came out of the jars...apples, if not stewed until tender before bottling can be highly absorbant and can soak up juice like a sponge. The peeler will make light work of apple bottling, well done for tracking one down ;). All the best with your 'appling'.

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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