Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Canning apple butter in the microwave {With metal lids!}

No, surprisingly, I have not gone completely mad. It really is possible to can fruits, jellies, preserves, et al in traditional glass jars the microwave. WITH their metal lids. AND live to tell about it. {I did hide behind the kitchen counter the first time, just in case.} Who knew!?

We were down in the "big city" last weekend and decided to take a spin around the Borders bookstore that was going out of business. On a 50% off shelf, sitting all by its lonesome was a book about microwave canning. What? You can can fruit in the microwave? For only $2.00, I had to have it just out of curiosity.

It's called 5-Minute Microwave Canning, by Isabel Webb, and it is amazing!

Did you know that you can put metal in the microwave? Without causing an explosion or small fire, that is? Well you can, as long as the metal to "other" (food, glass) ratio is no more than 30% metal to 70% other. Seriously. I did it. And I'm alive to tell about it.

Did I just blow your mind?

I love canning fruits to have in the winter months because nothing grows here in Colorado at that time. If we want fresh fruit it's super expensive, shipped from half way around the world, and never tastes as good as the fruits of summer. Our other option is canned fruit, but that can be so high in sugar, not to mention the fact that many cans have BPA in the lining. To me, the best option is to can the fruits my family loves in the summertime and eat them all winter long.

Now, when I say "I love canning fruits..." I don't mean I actually love the process of canning. I love the end result and that pioneer feeling that comes with it. The actual process, while not difficult, is certainly tedious. Using the microwave makes it so much quicker and easier.

But enough about me, I know you really want to know more about this process!

Apple Butter
{Recipe from 5-Minute Microwave Canning}

2 lbs cooking apples
1 cup water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves (I was out, so I used pumpkin pie spice)

Reminder: First, sterilize your jars, rings and lids. I put mine in the dishwasher using the high temp and heated dry options (two things I never use otherwise!) and just left them there until I was ready to use them. Try to time it so that the jars are still nice and warm though.

1. Place washed, roughly cut up apples (retaining skins & cores)* in a microwave-proof bowl. Add water and lemon juice.

2. Cook on high for about 8-10 minutes or until apples are soft.
3. Puree in a food processor or blender.
4. Return apples to a microwave-proof bowl and add sugar and spices.

5. Cook on high for approx. 6-8 minutes or until mixture has thickened and holds its shape when tested on a cold plate.**
6. Fill clean, sterilized jars. Secure lids.
7. Vacuum seal as directed. {See below}

This made 6 half pint (8 oz) jars of apple butter for me -- Christmas gifts for the kids' teachers!

Here are some of my own thoughts on the instructions above:

*The author suggests leaving the skins and cores in the apples. I actually used 3 lbs of apples and cut the cores out, leaving as much of the apple as possible. I hate getting those little hard parts of the apple that are around the seed. You know what I mean! I did leave the skins on and, even though I processed the heck out of it, I could still feel some little bits of skin. I'll remove the skins next time for sure.

**The cold plate test - If you haven't canned before, this is a way to tell if your product has "set" which just means, is it thick and goopy enough? Put a little plate and spoon in the freezer while you're preparing the above. After cooking it, take a little bit with your spoon and return it to the freezer for about 3 minutes. Take it out, hold it upright and, if your product doesn't run, you know it has set. If it does run, that just means it needs to cook for a few more minutes.

How to Vacuum Seal:
The author gives different processes for sealing each product or recipe in the book, so don't try this with any and every fruit concoction, because they can differ. For this apple butter specifically, put your jars in the microwave in a circle -- no more than 4 jars -- and make sure that they are at least 1 1/4 inches apart and away from the microwave walls. Cook on medium-high for 1-2 minutes. The tops will "pop" (seal) a few minutes after you take them out. Be sure to use hot pads to take them out. They will be SUPER hot!

Leave the jars to sit, undisturbed, until cool. Turn them upside down for an hour or so to check for leakage. If they leak, take the lids off, clean the tops and reprocess. If they don't leak (mine didn't!) you're good to go.

Wasn't that easy?

I also bought a bag of clementines which I canned in a light simple syrup. The kids love eating them in the summer. In the winter, they usually con me into canned mandarin oranges. Now we have our own BPA-free version.

Next up, several pounds of organic raspberries for preserves...aaaand I might try the raspberry gin that Webb suggests. Something for the kids, something for mommy. A little give and take is only fair.

Update: Raspberry preserves are done! I am loving this new microwave technique!


Rebecca Jean said...

Yes, you have totally blown my mind. First by canning in the microwave. And then by doing it with the metal lids on! Whoa.

I have to have this book.

♥ Rebecca Jean
Midnight Maniac

Jenn said...

I'm a little shocked this worked. I still don't have the nerve to do it myself but then again, my bunch eats fruits and veggies faster than I can get it processed so I LOVE this idea!!! :D

sheila from life @ #17 said...

I had no idea...I don't own a microwave but if I had, I'd be dangerous :))

Stephanie said...

Wow! That sounds amazing! And so quick!

Terry said...

I can hardly believe this is true. How amazing. I will be trying this come fall,...well, deeper into fall I guess I mean. :)

Kimberly @ The Brown Eyes Have It said...

No way! That is amazing! Never would I have thought you could use a microwave for canning.

Ricochet said...

My mind is officially blown! Is there a tomato canning recipe??? Let me know because I have quarts and quarts of tomatoes to preserve this year.... I "pinned" this tute.
Your newest follower,
Rikka J.
Ricochet and Away!

Kellie said...

@Rikka- Yes! Several tomato recipes from "just tomatoes" to sauce to salsa. I'm just waiting for mine to ripen!

Tiffany said...

simply AWESOME!!! how cool. now i wanna try

Liz said...

I could probably actually do this! Come share at our linky party!