Monday, October 25, 2010

Fruit Leather, Applesauce and Assembly Lines

Strawberry apple fruit leather sounded delicious to the 17 year old.  "Maybe we should make some as incentive"  she chimed.  Applesauce is a great base to any flavor of fruit leather one chooses to make.  As the end of apple season nears we are scrambling to bottle as much as we can.  The process is simple.  Wash and quarter the apples leaving the seeds and skins.  Cut out any bruised or worm eaten parts.  Boil until apples are soft (15-20 minutes).  We have a Victorian Juicer that extracts the applesauce and spits out the skin and seeds.  The apples we are using require no extra sugar but one can add cinnamon and/or sugar to taste.  Applesauce can be made without a juicer by mashing the apples or pushing them through a strainer.  Do what works.

The key to success in canning fruits and vegetables is setting up the assembly line.  Create enough steps to give each capable child a job.   Some responsibilities can be doubled up, some eliminated, what matters is that the job is done and everyone feels a part of a successful operation.  For the applesauce we all picked together in the orchard.  Someone sorted nice apples from worm eaten apples.  Another washed apples filling bowls of clean apples for others to quarter.  The Quartered apples were dumped in the boiling water by Mom and 20 minutes later the cooked apples were removed from the boiling water with a slotted spoon.  We reused the water for the next batch.  Another child turned the auger and punched the soft fruit through the machine.  (If the manpower is short or one parent is canning, these two jobs can be combined.)  Jars can be washed, lids boiled and the canner tended.  

We mixed 1/3 cup strawberry jello with 2 cups applesauce, spread it on a fruit leather round and turned on the dehydrator.  When I was a child we put the fruit sauces on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 100 degrees for 6 hours or spread the fruit sauces on clean plastic in the hot sun.  Some delicious combinations with the applesauce include pineapple, fresh strawberries, peaches, apricots, cherries and plumbs.  The goal is to find fruit for free by growing it or asking to harvest unwanted produce.

Teamwork and a sense of responsibility to the community in this case the family are built by canning food together.  There is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment to eat the from labors of the team.  Besides it is just good.

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