Spiced Honey Apple Butter

In the Pacific Northwest the end of summer and September brings apple season.

If you don’t have trees, ask around. You’d be amazed how many people don’t want their apples and will happily let you glean the trees for free.

I had just picked a bunch of apples, off an ancient tree, that tend to be very tart. Great for making apple butter! The cook down quickly and take on the spices added in.

Spiced Honey Apple Butter

Ingredients:

  • 8 pounds apples
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups raw honey
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 8 pint mason jars with rings and lids

Directions:

Wash and dry the apples. Peel apples, quarter, and core.

Place the apples into a large stockpot, preferably stainless steel, with 4 cups water.

Bring to a boil and cook until apples are soft, mashing often to break them up.

Add sugar, honey and spices, stir until boiling, then lower heat to medium. Let cook, stirring often (tip: wear an insulated glove while stirring, the apple butter can and will spit at you). When the apple butter is looking thickened, and mounds up on a spoon nicely, it is ready to can.

Meanwhile, wash and rinse the jars; put them into a canning pot; cover the jars with water and bring to a boil; turn off the heat. Let stand in hot water until you are ready to fill.

Add the bands and lids into a medium saucepan, fill with water and bring to a simmer, let sit until you are ready to screw them on the jars. (Use new lids each time, bands can be reused.)

Grab a jar with a jar lifter, empty the water out of your jar, set on a clean kitchen towel and fill to ¼” of the top (a sterilized canning funnel works great) with hot apple butter. Use a canning bubble popper to run around the inside, add more butter if needed.

Wipe the rim with a new damp paper towel, removing any spilled butter, especially on the rim.

Place a lid on top and tighten a band around each jar. Repeat till all jars are full.

Place the jars into the canning pot using a jar lifter, using the canning rack to lower in. Make sure all jars are upright and that jars are fully submerged, with at least 2″ of water above. If not, add some of the hot water out of the pot that held the lids. Cover the pot and bring to boil.

Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Turn off the heat, take out carefully using a jar lifter. Have a clean kitchen towel on the counter, place each jar on it and let cool for at least 6 hours, overnight is better. Listen for the “popping sound” and keep track of how many times you hear it. Check after cooling that the lid is firm when pressed on, if it pops up and down, it isn’t sealed. If that happens, refrigerate that jar and use within a couple of weeks.

Once cooled, mark the lids, and store the jars in a pantry out of direct sunlight for up to 12 months. Once opened, store in the refrigerator and use up within 3 to 4 weeks.

PS: If you haven’t see it yet, the all new Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle for 2018 is out now! So many ebooks and fun things to delve into, from recipes to gardening and homesteading – and a whole lot more:

Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle 2018

Woolpets Needle Felting Kit Review

A few years back I picked up needle felting as a hobby, and the boys had been bugging me for a year to teach them. I decided they were old enough to not put the needles into their hands/fingers on accident, so we had fun learning how to do a Woolpets kit together.

I had found the kit at a yarn shop, near our old home, and it got packed up for the move. The boys were helping me get the sewing machine set up and Alistaire found the box.

The pumpkin was a breeze to make, the squirrel…well, I am sure with a few more I could be a pro. Still fun though! It was my first 3D one, where I had to attach arms, feet, tail and head, so there was a huge learning curve. We had lots of roving over so Alistaire made a “wrapped gift” with some of it.

Cute kits, and yes, they come with everything you need to do it: a pad, needles, roving and anything else needed (except for a a sewing needle, if needed).

~Sarah

August On The Homestead

If I were to put a name on August this year, it would be The Smoky Month, Part 2. As like last year, the Cascade Mountains burned. For half the month the smoke hung thickly over us, making it a pretty sucky month. It was very hard to get chores done, even with a mask on. Air quality was pretty bad to say the least.

Still, I cannot complain about the garden. Fruit and berries ripened on schedule. The heritage alpine strawberries I started in January produced bumper crops this August. The first tomatoes came in, and the blueberries continued.

The red raspberry I saved last year and brought with us was heavily covered in flowers in early August.

White Soul Strawberries.

Sun Gold tomatoes.

Alistaire helping me pick in the tomatoes. I pick in the cool of the evening or in morning, as last year I started showing a skin allergy to tomato vines (it’s pretty common), and the heat of the day makes it much worse. Long sleeves and get in quick and out faster.

The fall carrots coming up strong.

Alistaire with a red strawberry picked.

At Mother Earth News Fair I picked up a big group of unusual lavender plants to bring home. I put 5 of them in front of the caged grow beds.

And more berries during Smoke Fest 2018. I’d go water, and quickly pick.

The Dogwood tree put on seeds, which I always find pretty.

Salal berries coming into season.

Not one I like eating, too hairy for my taste. But great for dyeing!

First of the Evergreen Huckleberries.

August brought a lot of work. We started working on the upper part of our land, slowly starting the thinning and clearing out. The grapple on our tractor has helped a lot.

We buck the logs, then split when we have time.

Kubi was something we thought long about and picked up a few months ago. What it can do in a few minutes would take us hours or days. I cannot say how much it has helped us with this messy land.

Yellow Wonder and Regina berries.

Before our island got a full fire ban we made some amazing pizza in a wood burning stove I will talk more about later…I mean, this is pizza from a dream! Soon we won’t have a fire ban and can enjoy it again.

Oregon Grape producing native berries.

Mama and her 2 dorks, busy at work. These 3 have been regulars around here all summer. They like to sleep in the upper property most nights.

Late summer red raspberries.

And the influx of tomatoes starts! The payoff for all that work….

The smoke blew out finally, and the temperatures have settled in the last week. Mid 60’s to low 70’s, and evenings where you need a sweater. Soon the tourist season will end and the island will become quiet again.

September brings finishing new beds down in the field, installing the greenhouse (hopefully) and working on clearing more of the forested areas into healthy forest.

~Sarah

September Garden Tasks for Zones 7-8 (In The PNW)

September is a pivotal month in the gardens for me. In zones 7 and 8 in the Pacific Northwest, the heat starts to settle down by the end of August. We still get warm days, but the heat dissipates as the sun sets, leading to cooler nights. The soil is still warm though, which helps the crops finish up.

The milder days are some of my favorite ones, to be in the garden working, cleaning up for the year, but also putting in next years ideas. This is the perfect month for garden tasks, where you can get a lot of work done, and sweat less. And it isn’t dark at 5 pm!

Garden Tasks:

  • Clean your beds of dead or dying back plants.
  • As bean and pea plants die back, cut the plants to the ground, leave the roots in, to help with nitrogen. You can blend this in in spring.
  • At the start of the month, trim tomato plants back of any blooms, so that the energy goes to the tomatoes to finish ripening.
  • Place a clean board or brick under pumpkins, to keep them off the soil, as they finish ripening.
  • Cut back leaves over pumpkins and winter squash, to let in light.
  • Plant cold friendly annuals for a pop of color in fall. Nurseries will have plenty right now, and they often bloom into November and December. They will often come back in Spring, unless we have a very harsh winter.
  • Start prepping your garlic and fall onion beds. Amend the soil as desired and mark the spots. Don’t plant though till the end of the month at the earliest (October is even fine for planting), however it is easiest to move the soil in September as it is still warm.
  • Buy garlic and onion to plant, if needed.
  • Trim back herbs, and save to dry. Do this in the early morning and stash in new brown paper bags to dry. Mark each bag with what is inside. Once dry, store in mason jars out of direct sunlight.
  • Do a fall fertilizing of blueberry bushes and trees, water well after.
  • If building new beds for next year (the cooler weather makes it a nice time!) lay down a lot of cardboard to help smother weeds.
  • Clean out your garden shed (If you have one).
  • Sharpen tools and clean them for winter storage.
  • Clean your greenhouse (if you have one), removing dead plants and giving it a good sweeping out.
  • Wash and dry empty pots, stack for fall storage, out-of-the-way, so fall storms don’t blow them away.
  • Water and turn your compost piles/bins.
  • Should you find any deals on berry or fruit trees, get them in the ground this month.
  • Avoid ANY desire to prune trees. Wait till it is winter! Trees and bushes are starting to go into being dormant, and need their rest.

~ Sarah

Applesauce Raisin Muffins

School is starting in a few weeks, so the batch baking has been happening. One of the boys hates raisins but he will eat golden raisins (kids are odd critters….) and so they all loved these applesauce raisin muffins. Thankfully I got half the batch into the freezer!

Bonus: the muffins are dairy free and sweetened with maple syrup. They can be made plant-based by swapping the egg out for a flaxseed “egg”.

Applesauce Raisin Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°, line a 12 count muffin tin with paper liners.

Mix oats, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and raisins together in a large mixing bowl.

Whisk applesauce, coconut milk, egg, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla together.

Pour wet over dry, stir till just combined.

Divide equally between muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer muffins to a cooling rack. Let cool fully before freezing.

Makes 12 muffins.