God has recently blessed us with friends who have friends who have friends who have fruit trees. :) Most of these people that have fruit trees are elderly, and they could never pick all the fruit off of their trees, let alone eat it all! So, my Mom, myself, my brother, my Aunt Kris, and my cousin Mariah have been going to people's homes and picking their fruit. They have all been so grateful to have the fruit gone, and we are so grateful to have the fruit!
So far, we have picked off of 3 different apple trees and 2 different pear trees. This has provided boxes upon boxes and bags upon bags of apples and pears. Dealing with all this fruit, and canning it is something I'd never done before, so my Aunt has been teaching us how to do everything.
First, we use our apple peeler, slicer, corer to (you guessed it!) peel, slice, and core our apples or pears. (Thank God for such a wonderful contraption as this! If we had to sit down and peel, slice and core every single apple or pear by hand I think I would go nuts!) Then each apple is cut in half and thrown into a bowl filled with water and a little bit of lemon juice. This keeps the apples from browning. We transfer the apples into a big pot of boiling water and apple juice where they boil for quite a long time. Some of them we boil for a shorter amount of time and can them just as they are, in slices for making apple pies and the like. But most of them we boil until they are able to be mushed easily. Then they go into the magic bullet to be ground into apple sauce. With that done, we can some of the apple sauce. Some of the apple sauce we make apple butter with in a crockpot. That part of it is pretty easy; you just throw the apple sauce into a crockpot, put some cinnamon, sugar, cloves, and allspice in, and cook it on low for about 12 hours or so.
The canning part we do at my Aunt's house, because we don't have any canning equipment yet. The tricky part about canning is that all of your stuff, the apples or sauce or butter, the jars, and the lids have to be hot so that the jars don't break when you boil them. While everything is hot, we fill up the jars with whatever we're canning. Then we wipe the the edge and lip of the jar so that it's completely clean. After that, we put the lid and ring on, and then transfer the jars to the canning pot (I think there's a specific name for that pot, but I can't remember what it is.) Depending on the size of the jars, they have to boil for a certain amount of time. Once that is done, we take them out of the pot and set them aside to cool. Once cooled, they seal.
Well, that's my latest newly-learned skill. It's a lot of work, and we've been doing it often over the past couple of weeks. We've been dealing with apples and apples and more apples! Whew!