As I journey on this path of herbal learning I thought I should share some tips and trick along the way. The first thing I want to share is how to prepare to make herbal remedies. You are probably thinking plant identification would be first, but not for me. I will challenge you to gather your supplies first and then learn about plants.
First, start collecting glass jars. You will need all sorts of jars to store your dried herbs, infused oils, tinctures, syrups,etc. Since you are a novice like me and probably on a budget you won’t be able to go buy everything you need. Start saving baby food jars, spaghetti jars, pickle jars, maraschino cherry jars, relish jars, etc. Ask you friends and family to save their jars for you as well.
How many jars will you need? This depends on the number of herbs you have to work with. If you are growing them or if you wild harvest them you might have a little more time to play around. If you buy some bulk herbs then you will want a place to store them instead of the bags they come in. I would say you will need three jars for each herb. Now don’t freak out on me. This is why you need so many jars. You will need a larger jar for dried herbs (pickle or spaghetti), medium (pint sized) jar for oil infusions or vinegars and small (baby food 4-6 oz.) for tinctures.
Once you have your collection of jar you will want to learn How to Prepare your Glass Jars for Herbal Remedies. So hop on over and read that post with tips and tricks for cleaning your glass jars.
We will discuss collecting herbs, drying herbs, and plant identification in other posts. For now check out some herb books or plant ID books from your local library. Until next time happy herb learning.
Since our family was able to go to a small apple orchard and pick all the apples we wanted for free, it was time for me to learn how to make apple butter. I am totally new to canning besides seeing my mom can at times growing up. I have never really liked apple butter before. I like cinnamon and apples but not too much cinnamon. I left out the allspice and cloves that most Apple Butter recipes call for.
I pulled out my Moto X smartphone and googled how to make homemade apple butter. Yes, that is right. I was standing in front of my stove using the internet to do something “old-fashioned” like canning. (It kinda makes me laugh thinking about the irony.) I saw a few recipes to make it in the crockpot from homemade applesauce. I prepared my apples into applesauce then filled up my 6 qt. crockpot and set it on low. (My affiliate link is used as reference.)
I began cooking the apples down before really worrying about seasoning the mixture. I wrote down two different recipes for spice ingredients but went my own way making it less spicy and more apple flavored. So this might not be a “true apple butter” but I do not care as long as we like it and eat it. I will be giving this as part of Christmas this year (so sorry any family reading this for present spoilers!)
1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of Nutmeg
1 Cup of Sugar (if needed)
6 quart of applesauce (before being cooked down)
I keep stirring my applesauce every hour or so because I feel like my crockpot might cook a little hot. I did not want it scorching or burning. I ended up putting the crockpot on the “keep warm” setting over night just to be on the safe side. During the day I had it on “low”. My applebutter cooked for more than 24 hours. I canned one batch the first evening around the 24 hour cooking mark. Then the second batch I canned in the am of the next day.
Check out a few other related posts:
My Canning Equipment
Gonna throw this post up quick since I am in the thick of processing apples into homemade applesauce and crockpot apple butter. This is our 3rd year to harvest apples for free from another homeschool families grandparents! We are so blessed to have free apples to enjoy. Usually we dehydrate a bunch into apple chips but our humidity has been threw the roof and the chips won’t dry- boohoo!
Okay, on to my super simple process of making homemade applesauce.
1) Pick your apples. Hope you have a great GMO-free orchard to go to to pick your lovely apples. Remember for sauce that bruises and apples off the ground are just fine.
2) Wash your apples. I dumped mine in our kitchen sink to soak the bugs out of them. I only had to wipe a few that had mud or grass on them.
3) Core your apples either with an apple corer or apple wedge slicer. (Using affiliate links for easy reference.)
4) Place cored apples into large pot. I used a 3 quart pot but bigger would be faster! Cover with 2-4 inches of water. Cook until apples are tender. You may want to stir them up once or twice so the apples on top cook as quickly as the apples on the bottom.
5)Start sterilizing your canning jars in water bath or large stock pot.
6) Use slotted spoon to scoop cooked apples out into food mill over large bowl or measuring cup. I have one without a hand
le bought at a garage sale for $1 but I could have used my Pampered Chef batter bowl as well. (I used empty ice cream pail for skins and seeds to be dumped into compost.)
7) Ladle applesauce into hot sterilized canning jars using a canning funnel to help lessen the mess. Wipe jar rims to be sure they are free from debris. Apply clean simmered lids using magnetic lid lifter and finger tighten the rings.
8) Using jar lifter gently place filled jars of applesauce into simmering water. Bring to a slight boil for 15 miuntes. Turn off water and remove jars being sure to use tongs and place on towel or cooling rack onto counter.
9) Listen for the pop sound of your jars sealing. Once cooled label with description and date.
Now you will have some wonderful homemade applesauce to enjoy!