Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
A couple of days ago I went to pick up my metformin prescription at the grocery pharmacy. I couldn’t resist checking what produce was in the discount bin. Apples! Apples have been out of my budget for awhile and we haven’t gotten any through the mobile food bank for about a year. This was a lucky find for me.
I hurried up to preserve these. I’m going to can applesauce. I indulged and ate one apple by itself. I have an apple peeler but there were so few of them I didn’t bother getting it out. The old fashioned way of peeling apples is good. Applesauce can be eaten as is or added to other recipes.
Cook over low heat with just enough water to prevent the apples from sticking to the bottom of the pan until soft enough to mash. Mash or run through a food processor to break them up. Add sugar if you like. Add a little, taste, add more, taste until you feel it’s sweet enough. I can mine without sugar. Follow canning directions in the Ball Blue book for proper canning. Apples can be water bath canned and are easy enough even a first time canner can do them.
Those apples made four pints of applesauce for my pantry. I think I’ll save them for a special occasion unless I happen to get more apples. Ok, the peelings are too good to throw away. Peelings are for useful for several other things too. Like making juice or jelly or…. hmm…. syrup. Yeah, that’s it. Apple syrup. I set the peelings on the stove to simmer all afternoon. Cores, peels, stems, seeds and all go into the pot. Nothing goes to waste.
They simmered until the cores were quite mushy and all juice had rendered out. Then I strained it through cheese cloth to get only juice, not any apple bits. You might be tempted to squeeze the peelings to get more juice but don’t do it. It will make your final syrup cloudy. Yes, the juice is sort of cloudy for now and that will change. The important thing is that there is only juice, no apple bits.
The syrup formula is 1/2 cup sugar for each 1 cup of juice. I measured the juice and I had 7 1/4 cups. I added water to make it an even 8 cups. Bring it to a boil and add the sugar all at once. Add a pinch of cream of tartar. Return to a boil, stir just until the sugar dissolves, cover, and let cook until it reaches 118 degrees or soft ball stage. The juice will reduce quite a bit. I got 6 half pint jars (6 cups) of syrup from those peelings. Not bad for garbage. See how clear it is. It was then water bath canned for twenty minutes.
Grandma Mama called this fruit honey instead of fruit syrup. I think she called it that because she made her syrups with wild honey as a sweetener. Sugar was rationed and hard to get. Grandma Mama made all kinds of fruit honey. Apple, pear, peach, apricot, blackberry, strawberry, dewberry, watermelon, walnut, hickory nut, and others. The syrup could then be used as a flavoring for cakes and icing or cookies or ice cream. To flavor coffee or tea perhaps? There are thousands of ways a person can use sweet flavorings.
Now before anyone reminds me this syrup is bad for my diet. I thank you but I made it mostly to show other possibilities for using apple peelings and I made the syrup for Ladybug. Sunday morning pancakes with a bit of Na Na’s apple syrup will be a special treat once in awhile. Or we just might have a bit of it on homemade snow cones on a hot summer day. This is far better than the store bought syrups with all kinds of ingredients we can’t pronounce.
Also, if you decide to make your own syrup using honey, the formula is 1/4 cup honey for each cup of juice. I hope you give making your own syrup a try. Its quite tasty.