Orchard People

What do you do with your bumper crop of apples? In this episode, learn how to can apples easily while keeping your loved ones safe from risks like botulism and mold! Our guest is homesteading and canning expert Melissa K. Norris of the Pioneering Today Podcast and Academy.

Listeners who tune into the show live will be able to enter this month's contest to win Everything Worth Preserving: The Complete Guide for Food Preservation at Home by Melissa K. Norris valued at $29.00.

The host of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast is Susan Poizner of the fruit tree care education website www.orchardpeople.com.  Tune into The Urban Forestry Radio Show LIVE by going to RealityRadio101.com on the last Tuesday of every month at 1.00 pm Eastern Time.

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Creators & Guests

Susan Poizner
Author, fruit tree educator, and Creator of the award-winning fruit tree care education website OrchardPeople.com.

What is Orchard People?

Learn how to grow and care for fruit trees with fruit tree care educator Susan Poizner of OrchardPeople.com. Discover how to create permaculture plantings, food forests, and forest gardens in both urban and rural settings. Meet experts on all aspects of comprehensive fruit tree care, including pruning, pest and disease prevention, fruit tree grafting and budding, and soil management.

Show host Susan Poizner, creator of the fruit tree education website OrchardPeople.com, is an award-winning author of three fruit tree care books and an ISA Certified Arborist. This podcast is the winner of the 2021 GardenComm Silver Award of Achievement for Broadcast Media: Radio Program Overall. Learn more and access archived episodes at https://podcast.orchardpeople.com/.

Learn more about Susan's books and courses at https://learn.orchardpeople.com/books.

Welcome to the Urban Forestry Radio Show, here on Reality Radio 101. In this radio show and podcast, we learn about fruit trees, permaculture, aboriculture, and so much more. So if you love trees, and especially fruit trees, or if you're interested in living a more sustainable life, then this is the place for you.
I'm your host, Susan Poizner of the fruit tree care training website, OrchardPeople. com. Thanks for tuning in. And enjoy the show.
Welcome to the Urban Forestry Radio Show with your host Susan Poizner. To contact Susan Live right now, send her an email in studio101@gmail.com.
And now write to your host of the Urban Forestry Radio Show, Susan Poizner.
Hi everyone. Harvest season is here and there is so much abundance in our gardens and our local farmers markets.
Cherry season has come and gone
but the peaches right now are so delicious and juicy.
And the apples? Well, lots of growers in my region are really enjoying a bumper crop.
So what do you do if your trees are producing a lot of apples? In the show today, we're going to talk about preserving our apple harvest with homesteader Melissa K. Norris of the Pioneering Today podcast.
Melissa also teaches online workshops in all aspects of homesteading at the Pioneering Today Academy.
And I am going to talk to Melissa in just a moment. But first I want to hear from you. Have you had a bumper crop of apples this year? How are you going to be preserving the harvest? Send in your questions, your comments, or you can also just email us just to say hi, and we will enter you into today's contest.
And the prize is a copy of Melissa's book, Everything Worth Preserving, the Complete Guide for Food Preservation at 29. So, to enter today's contest, just send your email right now to instudio101 at gmail. com. That's instudio101 at gmail. com. And remember to include your first name and where you are writing from.
I look forward to hearing from you really soon.
And so, Melissa, welcome to the show today. Hi Susan. Thanks for having me. I am so glad you're here. So today we're going to talk about apple harvests, the, our apple harvest. What kinds of apple trees are you growing? We have what I like to call a mini orchard.
So it's by no means very vast, but we have Gravenstein, Honeycrisp, Gala. And then I have the very first fruit tree that we ever put in was one of those cocktail apple trees that have all the like four different, you know, varieties grafted onto one. And the sad thing is, is I did not keep the tags. And so I'm pretty sure that there's a Chehalis on there and a Gala as well.
Um, but I'm not really sure what the other two varieties are, but they're delicious and it's really prolific. So I just roll with it. So let's call them your two mystery apples. That's fun, right? There we go. Yeah. Exactly. Oh my gosh, those multi apple trees, they're a little bit the bane of my life because I'm like looking at these trees and I'm like, oh my gosh, how do I even prune you?
Right? Like I don't want to prune off those branches. So it kind of limits you, but you're right. Like if you only have room for one tree, it's awesome to be able to have a tree that will cross pollinate and produce lots of different. Beautiful apples that you can enjoy. So that's wonderful.
So in terms of your apple harvest, what are the different ways that you deal with those apples?
Uh, you know, how are the various ways that you, you preserve them for the winter? Yeah, well, we do them in a multiple of different. Different ways, depending upon how we like to eat them and also the type of apple, the variety.
So one of my favorite ways, of course, is to do applesauce because I like to use applesauce when I'm in, just to plain eat.
In fact, when I was a little girl, my mom always would make biscuits and then we would put hot applesauce on top of the biscuits. And so that's like a favorite family treat, but I use applesauce in place of eggs or sometimes in place of fat or partial fat in baking. And so I'd like to have a lot of applesauce on hand and then apple pie filling.
Home canned apple pie filling is one of our favorites to have during the holidays. Especially. I feel like I'm really busy during November and December. And so having that already done from our apples and all I have to do is prepare the pie crust and then put them in just makes when you're hosting Thanksgiving day, and you've got so much already to prep for the whole meal, it just makes it so much faster.
And I don't know about you, but before I grew our own apples and preserve them so that I had them at the holiday baking time, I felt like the apple prices always jacked up really high, like two weeks before Thanksgiving and stayed there. So. Aside from the apple pie filling, I do like to freeze dry our apple slices.
I used to dehydrate them, but I found my kids prefer the texture of freeze dried apple slices versus dehydrated. And then I usually do make homemade apple cider vinegar with the scraps after I've done all of that other preserving. And then As much as I can, I like to try to store some of the apples just as is, but we have apple maggots here.
And so that does definitely impact the ability for me to store the apples long term, just because they've already been compromised a little bit. So I sometimes will then just do apple butter or apple jelly. If I can tell by looking at the apples, they've been hit hard by the apple maggots and they're not going to last for me in a cold storage root cellar type environment.
Wow, okay, so you got a whole bunch of different ways that you're using these apples, whether they're homegrown or like you say, lots of us will just, you know, if you don't grow enough, you go buy them, like, my goodness, you're absolutely right. The price that you'll pay for, you know, a nice apple can be crazy here in Toronto, very high over the winter.
If you've got them, you're good. You're golden. Now you mentioned freeze drying.
Of course I know about, you know, dehydrators and dehydrating apples.
How is freeze drying the apples different? So freeze dryer is really, really fascinating and it uses dehydrating. But it couples it with freeze drying, hence the name.
So home units for freeze drying came on the market about five or six years ago. Commercial freeze dryers, of course, have been in existence for a really long time. So. You have to have a freeze dryer, unfortunately, there is no way to, to kind of hack that without having one, but what it does is it's a chamber and so you load your tray similar to a dehydrator.
You've got your trays that go into the machine, and then you close the door and you turn it on, and it freezes down to about negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit so it gets very very cold, but being that cold, it allows all of the moisture in the food to vaporize. And then your pump comes on and kicks in, and then all of the moisture that's been vaporized now, it's called sublimation, actually sucks that out, the moisture out, because it's in vapor form, and then it switches over and it dehydrates.
But because of it getting so cold that all of the moisture is actually removed first, And then it dehydrates, the texture is very different. So it's very light and airy. And what's interesting is the apples or any food that you freeze dry, it doesn't shrink up. So when we dehydrate, we're used to seeing, you know, grapes, obviously as raisins, they shrivel up, things shrink.
They don't, when you freeze dry. So they maintain their shape and it's a very light, airy, crunchy. flavor, whereas dehydrated is usually more chewy. Sometimes it's crisp right as it comes out, but then after you've sealed it up, you know, after, you know, a day or two, it kind of loses that crispness. It's a little bit more of a chewy texture, which I have to say I prefer for cherries, but I love the freeze dried apples because it keeps it shelf stable for up to 25 years, which is really phenomenal.
And the nutrients value, it retains the highest level of nutrients of any type of food preservation, even over dehydrating and dehydrating is already pretty, pretty high as far as nutrient retention. So It, um, it's the closest that you can get to a preserved form of the apple that to me mimics it as it's fresh because it's still got that crunch part and it's still the same shape and the same size.
And so these freeze dried apples, you will just nibble on them, or would you ever rehydrate them and turn them into something else? Yeah, both, which is great. So you can eat them in, they're just, they're freeze dried form. It's just kind of like a snack. It's like an apple chip, right? Instead of like potato chip, but very crunchy and sweet.
I actually, my favorite in snack form when it's freeze dried is to take a little bit of like almond butter or peanut butter and just kind of, kind of dip it in there. Excellent snack, but you can also rehydrate them and use them just like you would if they were fresh. So you take water and put them on there and they usually rehydrate relatively quick, like within 10 to 15 minutes, pretty fast process.
And then you would treat them just like you would a fresh apple. So you could put them in, you know, to make a crisp or an apple pie or cakes or muffins, or, you know, any of those types of things that we would typically bake or use an apple in. That sounds so yummy and very exciting.
However, freeze dryers, how much would we pay for something like that?
They are an investment. So when you look at like dehydrator prices or even canning prices, those are much lower. So the freeze dryer, depending on the size of unit that you get, you're going to average about 3, 000. So it is definitely a investment piece of equipment. Um, but if it's something that you use a lot, because the freeze dryer does allow you to do.
All varieties of food. So vegetables, fruits, meats, uh, casseroles, like fully cooked meals, that type of thing. So it has a greater variety of what you can actually create as a shelf stable meal. So depending upon how much you use it, you know, it, it will offset the value. And if you're using it quite frequently, a lot of people find that it pays for itself actually relatively quick, but it is a pretty big upfront investment.
And so once the stuff is freeze dried to put it on the shelf, you can put it in a jar or bag or something, leave it on the shelf and you really don't have to worry about it. Yeah, that's the great thing. So it has to be in something that's airtight because if the freeze dried food is left where it can oxygen or moisture just in the air, it will start to slowly rehydrate.
So a Mason jar glass jar works great. You can put them in that you can do the bags. Um, and where you're, you know, and you could use. You know, like the vacuum sealer things that I usually use those for freeze food, um, for a short period of time, but for the long term storage, you really want to be looking at either using the mylar bags and or the mason jars.
And so why won't vacuum packed, uh, you know, freeze dried fruit food? Why wouldn't that last for a long time? Why couldn't that last for 25 years? It doesn't, um, the, the material of the, of the plastic, it doesn't seem to. Long term. Um, actually at, at shelf, like on the room, like in a freezer is a little bit different environment, but when you're in the room, like you still will get some oxygen in there, even if it's still sealed.
And so you're going to have some moisture and oxygen reintroduced long term, and it's going to soften it up. It's kind of like, um, putting it in like a Ziploc bag, it'll stay for a day or two, but then you'll open it up like by day three, and you'll notice that it's kind of getting chewy already. It's not that crispness.
So of course the. Like the vacuum saver plastic bags. You're going to get a little bit longer than just a few days, but it's something that I would just do with a food that if I thought we were going to be taking it on a trip and we were going to be using it within a week or two, it's not something that I would put it on the shelf, you know, for months on end in that type of packaging.
Gotcha. Uh, we've got an email here from Mark. Mark says, Hi Susan, in case no one to ask for suggestions with regards to crab apples. They've gone crazy this year. So crab apples are phenomenal because crab apples have pectin levels like none other. So if you are looking to do any type of jams or jellies or anything like that, where you want it to set and to thicken up, then crab apples are Excellent.
So oftentimes I will take crab apples and I'll actually pair them with some other fruits that have less natural pectin in them. And I'll use the crab apples as my outside pectin source, instead of buying pectin from the store. So putting crab apples with blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, even cherries, you'll get a phenomenal set.
And not have to have an outside pectin source. Um, you can also use crab apples. Usually they're smaller than a regular apple and usually, um, not as sweet in most, at least most crab apples that I have had, they've not been as sweet. So a lot of times people will put them through something like a food mill because they're so small, it's going to be quite laborious.
To try to peel and core them. They're just not big enough, but if you can put them through something like a food mill, where it will separate out the skin and the seeds, then that could be an excellent thing. You could do apple butter from that. Um, you could juice, you could try and juice them, but there's not a lot there just cause they're so small.
Um, so most of the time people will use them to do something like, like an apple butter or pair them with other fruits to just stretch it further and take advantage of the pectin source. I love that idea. And in fact, I'm surprised I haven't seen, you know, in shops with artisan jams that you don't get, you know, crab apple and berry jam and stuff like that.
Maybe it's in there and they just don't tell us. Um, but it's what a wonderful idea. We've got an email from Rita and Rita's writing. Hello, Susan. I just went to Melissa's website. Very impressive. We're listening to you from Fort Worth, Texas. Great show. Thank you, Rita.
And we have here, Janice has written, Good afternoon to Susan and Melissa.
Melissa, any good recipes for apple bread? Thanks, from Washington, D. C. Wow, you don't really get apple bread too much, do you? That's a great idea. That is a great idea. Um, I have Like, if I'm making, I usually tend to make muffins because then I don't have to slice the bread, it's just a quick, like, already portioned out thing, but I will just take some of my, I just have a very time a basic muffin base, and then I'll just swap out the fruit.
So I'll just chop up apples and put it in there. You could bake them in a loaf pan if you wanted to, um, but that's kind of my go to. But another thing that I like to do is actually slice, or I should say dice the apples smaller, and then I will put those in Instead of like raisins and making cinnamon rolls, you can do apple rolls.
The key is to cut them small so that they are cooked all the way through and not, you know, crunchy. I, I don't like crunchy apples in a baked application when I'm expecting them to be fully cooked. So size does matter. Um, but those are some of the ways that I, I like to do those, but really you could sub out if you have any type of a quick bread recipe or like a blueberry, anything that already calls for fruit, just sub out and put the apples in there.
And you'll be good to go. I am a muffin person myself. I do a lot of muffins. I've never thought of that. And I think it's a great idea because I have put applesauce, of course, in my own muffins, but I never really thought of an apple muffin. Um, but I like that. Like you get the little sort of, yeah, nice.
Cause I'll put strawberries and muffins. I put, um, rhubarb. I love my rhubarb muffins and stuff. Ooh, good idea. Okay. I'm going to try that one.
We've got another email here. This one's from James. Hello, fruit tree ladies. We are fruit tree ladies. Um, when is the best time to grow and plant apple trees? I'm in zone seven, a in Southern Toronto, Southern Toronto zone seven a that doesn't sound right, but anyways, uh, do you want to answer that or should I take that one, Melissa?
Yeah, well, I am zone seven. If, if you are zone seven. Go for it then. Um, yeah, we're not, but, but maybe I've got, maybe there's a Southern Toronto somewhere else. So yes, tell us Melissa, when would you plant apple trees? Um, so ideally if you can do them in fall, fall is actually a really great time to get your apple trees in.
If you can't do it in fall, then. Early spring, and that's going to depend on how soon your thaw is, how much snowfall you have before you can actually dig, etc. But spring can also work really well for getting them in. Basically, you want to do it when the apple is in dormancy. And I prefer to do it in fall if possible because then it has all fall and winter to get its root system established before we head into the summer months because here we're very It's funny.
I live in the Pacific Northwest. I'm very close to the Canadian border, but on the western Washington site, but we will go through our summer months. And right now, May through, it's almost September at the time of recording. This is the end of August, and we've only had about four days of rain since May and on a new tree that's planted in spring.
That's very stressful. So I have to hand water for not getting about it. inch of rain a week. So I prefer to do it in fall just because it gets that root system established with our rainfall and everything. I feel better than in the spring, but I've done them in the spring too. So I don't know if you have any, um, for your climate, Susan.
Yeah, I would love to if James email us back to say exactly where you are because it says southern Toronto. Is that Ontario? I don't know. I'm really curious because zone seven. Wow. Okay. Um, I love planting trees in the spring, but we've got a different climate and we have nice wet rainy springs. Um, and it gives them time for the same reason.
I want my tree to really establish itself to expand its root system out and to have that Okay, Um, and then of course we run around and take care of them and water them and pamper them quite a lot. Um, so that I feel because our winters are quite harsh, it'll be a little bit more sturdy at the, in the winter.
Once the winter comes and it goes into dormancy and it hits photosynthesized, it's got nutrients from its leaves going into its little root system. So I feel for me, for our climate, I like that best, but I love to hear. Um, your reasoning for yours and I can totally, uh, that makes sense to me. If you don't have a lot of rain and you, you can't pamper those babies, then that does make sense to do it in the fall for sure.
And then the snow will melt eventually giving it anyways, giving it a really nice start. Well, thank you, James, for that question. Oh, one more question and then we will, let's see, who's this from?
This is from Sean. Hi, Susan. Thanks to you and your staff for another interesting episode. I have a question for your guest.
Aside from freeze drying, is there a method of preserving that gets very close to the original recipe or fruit? I know acidifying is a common technique for preserving. Sometimes this changes the character of food. So that's from Sean. Yeah, so I think Sean, what you're asking is ways to preserve it that keeps it as close to possible to its original state, aside from freeze drying, at least that's how I'm interpreting what you're asking.
Um, So of course, dehydrating is very similar to freeze drying, except it's going to be a little bit chewier in texture. Um, but you are simply moving, removing the moisture because the moisture is actually what is going to, um, have bacteria and mold and fungi able to breed and it's going to break down and make it to where it's un eatable.
So if you remove the moisture either by freeze drying and or dehydrating, you're not changing the, the structure as far as, uh, pH level, et cetera.
Then, you can do root cellaring techniques, and this is going to depend upon apple variety and also conditions. So you do want to make sure that you're using an apple variety that is known to be a long storing variety.
Not all apples have thick enough skin. They have different structures and different sugar content. And so look up. Um, varieties of long term storage apple varieties. You can do a quick Google search or whatever search engine of your choice and find that out. The other key is if you are trying to root cellar them, and this is truly of any fruit and or vegetable.
when you harvest it, you want to leave that stem on. So if you're able to pick them yourself, leave the stem on, because as soon as that stem is removed, you're going to get oxygen is able to get into the apple faster. And that is going to break it down faster. Um, the second thing is it really needs to not have any bites on it.
And this is where myself being, so we have apple maggots here. I can't usually use this technique very much because the apple maggots will lay The little flies come and they lay on the egg and then the maggot hatches out inside the apple, and then it comes out, but therefore it's breached the surface, so there's oxygen able to get in there and to break down kind of from the inside out.
Pests in your area are going to matter, so it really needs to be pest free as much as possible. And then... Using root cellar techniques, you don't have to have a root cellar, but what you're after is humidity and temperature control. So obviously you don't want them to freeze because if they freeze and then thaw, you might as well just put them in the freezer.
If they freeze and then thaw, they're going to break down. They're going to turn to mush and they're going to rot very fast. If your humidity levels aren't high enough, that's when you see apples shrivel. Sometimes you'll even see this in your refrigerator, crisper drawer, you'll pull them out. Apples have maybe been in there a while and they'll be shriveled up.
And so that's a humidity control issue. So it needs to be an area that has a high enough humidity that they don't shrill up. But the key is that they stay cool enough that they don't start to break down. And so. Some people have perhaps an actual root cellar or a basement that meets those conditions and are able to store them long term there.
Your crisper drawer of your fridge can, of course, you're limited to the amount of space, right, that you have there, but that can also work. Um, but it's not as simple as just kind of putting it in the back pantry. I mean, apples will last at room temperature for a while. But it's not going to be an extremely long term, but Roots Seller Techniques are actually your closest to original and keeping them there the longest.
Of course you can use your freezer. Again, that's dependent upon electricity, how much freezer space you have, and it's going to make them soft. So that's kind of something where I look if I'm going to be cooking them, then I don't mind it. If I'm going to be making them into sauce later or something like that, then the freezer can work well, but it's never going to be crisp after.
where it's frozen and then thawed is always soft and mushy. So there can be a texture there depending upon how you plan on using it.
And then you can can it. So when you are canning, apples are already naturally acidic. So apples can safely be canned without acidifying them where other foods require additional acidity in order for botulism not to grow.
So because your apples are already natural acidic, you're not. In most cases, adding any extra acidity. So they're just in a cooked texture. It's a cooked format. You're not actually changing the pH of the apples when you're canning them. You're simply just cooking them and then they're staying in that cooked state with the oxygen removed as part of the canning process and they're shelf stable.
So if you're comfortable cooking an apple and eating it, then canning it is the exact same thing as far as your, your nutritional value, um, et cetera, as any type of cooked apple product would be. Awesome. So James sent me back an email with a Toronto zone map, so I'm going to have a good look at that.
Thank you, James. I want to have a look at that. So it says here, if you draw a horizontal line from east to west, we would be even with Melissa's location. She's a Zone 7 and we're at the lake. At zone seven, eight. Thanks. Ah, the lake. That's going to be the warming effect. Awesome. Thank you, James, for sharing that with me.
Um, okay. Yeah, I want to talk about canning. Um, and I have mentioned to you, Melissa, before, I'm terrified of canning, canning. I'm just, I'm afraid I'm going to kill people. And I just don't have the confidence. You can't kill people by making them a muffin. Like it might taste bad. That's the worst you're going to do.
Right. So I want to talk about canning. But first I want to just Let's look at a couple of comments from Facebook. We'll listen to our little commercial break and then we are going to dig into canning. But there were some interesting comments on Facebook.
Um, Louise from West Georgia writes, my mother dried apples in the sun.
They turn a dark color unlike dehydrated apples. They also had a more intense flavor. Mama used them to make fried pies and dried apple cakes. Very cool. Have you ever had, um, apples dried in the sun? I have not had apples dried in the sun. And part of that is my northern western, um, atmosphere. We normally, by the time my apples are on, like today, I actually have rain and we're barely above 62 degrees Fahrenheit.
I don't have enough sunlight long enough for our later ripening varieties of apples in order to do that. So I have to use a dehydrator. But my grandparents came from North Carolina. And they did all of their drying, either by the wood stove pipe or outdoors. And so my grandmother would have used that same method, but I have heard of, um, the apple stack cakes.
I have not made one. It is on my goal list to try that and fried apple pies. Oh gosh. Those are delicious. Yes. Sounds great. Can't go wrong. A couple more comments.
We've got Pat from Ohio. Hi, Susan. We make canned, we're talking about bumper crops. We make canned pie filling, dried chips and fruit leather, apple butter every third year, cider on the agenda this year as there is a bumper crop of fruit here in northeast Ohio.
Some also goes to local non profits to disperse in the community. I love that. Pop, that's amazing. And then, uh, Pop continues, same with other fruits and veggies, blackberry raspberry leather in the oven right now for the grandkids. Ah, so nice. And then we've got a message here from Tim. Tim says, we had, we have had a bumper crop of everything this year.
So what did they do? How do they share? Uh, Tim says, pick your own, invite neighbors and friends over, roadside stand. To the soup kitchen, dry, fresh, juice, et cetera. Still, I can't keep up and much is hitting the ground and I hate to see reasonably good fruit on the ground. Hopefully it's helping the soil and possibly wildlife.
So yeah, then finally we've got,
Eric says, I make some applesauce. I dry some, I eat and bake some fresh and the vast majority goes into hard cider and peri. So, um, Melissa, we're gonna talk about canning after the break. I also want to talk about your apple, your apple pie filling. Let's talk about that too, because you'll be canning that as well, I guess.
So let's do that in just a minute. But first, are you okay staying on the line? We'll listen to a few words from our sponsors. Yeah. Sounds great. Okay. Super. So you are listening to the Urban Forestry radio show and podcast brought to you by the Fruit Tree Care training website, orchardpeople. com. This is Reality Radio 101 and I'm Susan Poizner, author of the Fruit Tree Care books, Growing Urban Orchards and Grow Fruit Trees Fast.
And we'll be back right after the break.
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Welcome back to the urban forestry radio show with your host Susan Poizner Right here on Reality Radio 101. Send Susan an email right now. Our email address is instudio101 at gmail. com
And now, right back to your host of the Urban Forestry Radio Show, Susan Poizner. You are listening to the Urban Forestry radio show and podcast brought to you by the fruit tree care training website orchardpeople. com This is reality radio 101 and I'm your host Susan Poizner. In the show today we have been talking about how to preserve a bumper crop of apples and my guest on the show today is homesteader Melissa Kay Norris.
of the Pioneering Today podcast. Melissa also has an amazing website and she teaches online courses in all aspects of homesteading.
Now, in the first part of the show, we talked about various different ways that you can process and preserve your apples. We talked a bit about dehydrating. storing in a root cellar, even freeze drying your harvest.
But what about canning apples? We're going to talk about that in just a minute. But first, I would love to hear from you. Have you had a bumper crop of apples this year? If so, what are you doing with all your produce? Do you share it with friends and family? or do you preserve it in some other way? Send us an email right now during the live show and we will enter you into today's contest and you can win a copy of Melissa K.
Norris's book. It's called Everything Worth Preserving, The Complete Guide to Food. Preservation at home, and it's valued at 29. So to enter the contest, all you have to do is send us an email to instudio101atgmail. com. That's instudio101atgmail. com. And do be sure to include your first name and where you're writing from.
So now back to Melissa. Okay, Melissa, let's talk about canning. How can I can apples without killing my friends and family? Okay, the good news is apples is a great crop to begin learning how to can on because it's already naturally acidic. So why do we care about acidity when it comes to canning? So people are afraid of canning because of botulism.
So most people I think have heard the word botulism or somewhat familiar of it, especially within context of canning. So botulism is a form of food poisoning and it is actually a neurotoxin that can be fatal Get botulism. So that's why there is fear and reasonably so By making sure that you're canning properly so that you don't get it because it's not like salmonella or E.
coli where you know You're gonna have an upset stomach and throw up that type of a thing There actually is neurological effects and it can be fatal if you don't get the antidote in time Once you start to exhibit symptoms, so that being said we have to understand how does botulism actually grow. So botulism will grow in a non aerobic, so without oxygen, which is what a sealed canning jar is, is a non aerobic environment.
However, botulism cannot grow in an acidic environment, specifically 4. 6 on the pH scale or lower, lower the number, the more acidic it is. So That means that we can safely water bath and or steam can acidic fruits and or pickled vegetables because of the pickling aspect we are creating an acidic environment of 4.
6 or lower on the pH scale. So apples are naturally acidic. So therefore, we can safely can those and we're not worried about botulism developing because of their acidic environment. Now. other foods that are not naturally acidic, like green beans, for example, unless you're pickling those green beans, but just doing green beans, um, you know, meats, anything like that.
We have to pressure can those because we need them to reach an internal temperature that is higher than you can reach with boiling water. Boiling water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. If you boil water for three hours or 20 minutes, it doesn't get above 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So therefore, in order to kill botulism spores and non acidic environments, we pressure can, because it's the only way that we can reach those high enough temperatures, 248 degrees Fahrenheit.
With, um, that would kill botulism spores if they were present because we don't have the acidity to prevent it from developing. So that's kind of the sciency, like nitty gritty part. And that's why fruit, especially apples are a great place to start because they're already acidic and we don't have to worry about botulism.
So if I'm gonna can, so that's amazing, so I'm, you're telling me, Susan, you're not gonna kill your friends and family if you can apples, so I could do something like slice apples, cook them up in water, pop them in my water bath, which you'll talk about in a minute, without sugar, without salt, without any additives, I'm not gonna kill anybody.
I don't know if it'll taste good, but is, is that it? It's like every single fruit will have enough acid that it will be safe Oh, no. Okay. Not every single fruit. So I'm glad you asked that it because bananas, for example, are not 4. 6 pH. Um, Asian pears are not 4. 6 pH. They are higher on the pH scale, which means they are not as acidic.
So there is some caveats there on the fruit. Um, For example, white peaches. Now, regular peaches, you're good to go. White peaches and Asian pears have to have some additional added acid. It's usually lemon juice or it could be citric acid that is added to them to raise their pH to that of a 4. 6. So you can still safely can those, but you do have to have a little bit of added measure.
Now, bananas, one, you've got bananas are very mushy. So we have a density factor as well as them not being. acidic enough to be safe to can. So I believe there's like one tested recipe from Ball that uses a small amount of bananas with strawberries, and that is a safe tested canning recipe. But if you've ever been on Pinterest or Facebook and saw someone showing monkey butter, which is basically pureed bananas, and then saying it's safe to can, I would not follow that person for canning advice because that's not true because of the banana's acidity.
So most fruits And berries are acidic enough and safe to count, but there are a few exceptions. Gotcha. Okay. And so what it sounds like to me is we got to use recipes. I can't go and be creative, right?
So I, where would I find safe canning recipes that would be fine to use as long as I follow the instructions?
Yeah, that is a great question. Well, one, I have to say, is my book everything worth preserving? But aside from that, if you are looking at now in the States, if you are looking at extension offices, then those recipes are tested and safe. Um, if you are looking at university websites, they often will provide safe and tested recipes as well.
Then you have got the National Center of Home Food Preservation website. That, again, is tested recipes. You have got my website, lisskeynorse. com, has quite a few safe tested recipes. Um, then you also have Ball. Um, which I believe Canadian is, I'm going to mispronounce it, Bernadine, I believe it's how you say.
I think so. Yeah. The Canadian version of that. So those, those websites are safe and tested. And then if you're looking at fruits, especially, um, jams, jellies, et cetera, actually pulmonous pectin is a Canadian company. And they have tested recipes and it's using their pectin, which I have to say, um, I'm not sponsored by them, but their pectin, if I'm not using my crab apple or my apples as a pectin source, because green apples slightly under ripe have higher levels of pectin.
And so I will often even just use a green apple as a pectin source, but an outside pectin source. I use prominence pectin because it's one of the few pectins that actually uses calcium water and natural sources of pectin. That does not require. Sugar at all in order to get it to set if you're using brands like sure gel, um, and some of those other brands of pectin that you'll find just like at the grocery store, most of those use very high amounts of sugar.
Sometimes it's the same amount of sugar as it is fruit or higher in order to get the set or the gel so that you have a jam that's spreadable and it's not liquid. Um, so I. only use pomonus pectin. However, their website has a great amount of all different types of fruit canning recipes that are tested, um, and I've always had excellent success with them.
So that is another source, especially for fruit that I would use. Can you just spell the name of that, uh, the company, Pomonus? Yes. It P as in Paul, O M as in Mary, O N as in Nancy, A, pomona, and then S, plural. Oh, okay, great. Pomona. Thank you. We'll put the link to that in the show notes. Why not? We've got a, a message here from Jessica.
Jessica writes, great information. I'm enjoying all the preservation knowledge being shared in today's show. If Melissa has tips on how to make apple leather in the oven, I don't have a dehydrator. That would be wonderful. And that's from Jess. Yeah. So just basically to make any type of fruit leather, but specifically apple leather is we have to get it into a pureed format.
And so because apples are denser, that's going to be basically prepping it like you would for applesauce. So it. Um, now if you want to leave the peels on you can, that's kind of a, a textural issue. Some people choose to leave the peels on when they're doing apple leather and some don't. So up to you, but you're going to need your seeds and your cores removed.
And then you're going to be cooking it just enough so that it's soft that you can puree it up. And then you're going to spread it on some type of tray. So if you have rimmed cookie sheets, uh, you can do it on that. Because it is a little bit sticky and we're going to be drying it. If you line it with parchment paper, that will help you get it off the trays easier.
Um, if you actually have, for those who do have a dehydrator, they also have like silicone mats. I usually always use those whenever I'm doing apple leather, uh, because it will kind of drip through the tray. You're only getting it so thick and sauce form and then. If you're using your oven, you have to make sure that you can get your oven to come down to a low enough temperature.
Some ovens have controls, they'll only go so low, etc. But ideally, you're trying to get the temperature around 135 degrees Fahrenheit. 125 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. So however low you can get your oven. And then you have air flow, so you'll prop that oven door open. So, Again, as long as it's low, that's still pretty warm.
So just use normal safety precautions. Not when you have little kids or, you know, or pets that could, you know, get in there, just, you know, make sure it's safe, but you're going to prop that open. And then you're going to let that go. And it's going to slowly evaporate the moisture out. And then once it has reached the form where you're happy with it, that it's like leathery, because we have to have so much of the moisture removed so that it doesn't start to mold, but you don't want your fruit leather to become.
brittle to the point where it's not leathery. So it's kind of that kind of a fine line. So test it often. And if you are in the oven, you'll probably have to rotate your trays because the back part is going to get drier, warmer, faster. Now for making apple leather, and this is really true of any fruit leather, you can also decide if you are going to add a little bit of sugar.
Depending on the sweetness of your apples spices. I love to put Ceylon cinnamon in there because it's sweeter. Um, you can put a little bit of nutmeg in there, do a little bit of ginger. You could do cardamom. I mean, really whatever spices you want to do. Some people would do cloves. I tend to loathe the flavor of cloves, so you will not find that in mine, but you can do spiced, you can do, you know, however you want to do sometimes people.
Now, if you decide to put something in, there's another sweetener option like, um, honey or maple syrup or something like that. Just know you're adding more liquid in even though it's a sweetener. So it may increase the drying time in order to get that to, to be dry because you're putting more moisture in.
Um, but it's basically just getting that dehydrated enough where it's still pliable and leathery. But you don't have so much moisture in there that it's going to mold. And so that's going to vary on the length of dehydrating time onto how thick you've poured it into your trays, as well as how much moisture is in the apple, how much moisture is in the air, etc.
So you are going to want to look at it, you know, start testing it because it's easy to go past the point into brittle. Um, and then it's not very leathery and it's, you know, it's just not, it's not fruit leather at that point. It's still usable, but it's kind of crunchy and weird.
In one of my not very successful experiments doing you with a dehydrator and I tell you this is my the story of my life Experimenting and when it doesn't work, but it takes forever to dehydrate even in these dehydrators I remember I can't remember what we were dehydrating but we're like, okay, it's two days already You know, this is ridiculous So, is that because I had a bad dehydrator that was cheap from, you know, Best Buy or something?
Or is it because I did something wrong? Or does dehydrating just take forever? Dehydrating just takes a long time because you're really, I mean, like most fruit settings, you're going to be one at about 125 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit, because if you get it too hot, you can burn the sugars, right? So there's kind of that, that fine line.
You don't want to get it so hot that you're going to burn sugars. And we like to keep it lower because. For dehydrating, you're keeping it as close to the raw temperature, raw format for nutritional value as possible, but you're only going to get something to dry out so fast at that low of a temperature.
I mean, it would be like if it was sitting at, you know, just in a hot day in the kitchen, it's not going to evaporate and get dry very fast. So just have that expectation that it's going to take anywhere from 48 to 72 hours, especially for talking pureed fruit, because it's already quite. heavy and high in moisture content.
Now for dehydrating things like, um, herbs, you know, those can be done because they're much thinner. They don't have as much moisture content. You know, those can be done in like 12 to 15 hours, just kind of depends. So not necessarily doing anything wrong, just having the proper expectation of how long it takes.
But the great thing is, is I mean, you're putting it in the dehydrator and then you're essentially not touching it other than checking it every so often. It's not like it's hands on time and it doesn't use that much electricity either. So it's just something that you're setting and doing and then you've got this lovely item that will, you know, last year and take you throughout the winter.
So just have the proper expectation on the time frame there. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. So now let's go back to, we were talking about canning, um, like apples. So let's say, you know, you mentioned that you would can applesauce. You'd make your applesauce and you'd can it. And of course we'd be using recipes from one of the sources that you talk about.
Talk about your apple pie filling. Like what, what is, where did you get that recipe and um, what does that have in it? Yeah. So apple pie filling is one of my favorite things to can. And as far as the recipe for it, when you're canning apple pie filling, um, when that actual that the canning apple pie filling recipe with the canning instructions, everything is for free on my website.
So if you go to melissaknorris.com/. And just type that in the search bar, you'll, you'll find that. Um, but when it comes to canning apple pie or any type of fruit filling, when it comes to canning, there's a couple of things that you need to know. One is if you are going to be using a thickener, So that it's not syrupy, then the only approved thickener since the late 1990s is a product called a clear gel.
And so what it is, is a modified corn starch that doesn't have thick spots, but also stands up to the heat of canning and doesn't break down on the shelf after a few months. So. If you have been canning or maybe read canning books or remember your mom canning or maybe your grandma prior to the late 1990s, when they did some additional testing, you would see canning recipes for pie filling specifically that would use either flour and, or cornstarch, just like you would, if you're making pie filling when you're making a fresh pie to thicken those up.
But what they found is over time, they break down. So I, back in the day would can apple. Thai filling using flour and or cornstarch. And like a month after I canned it, glorious, nice and thick, beautiful. About two to three months down the road, I would go to open a jar and it turned into like this weepy, half liquidy, soggy, bleh.
Mess. And that's just because it can't, it just doesn't stand up that long. The other issue, it's actually more of a safety issue than it is textural issue. And that is flour and cornstarch can produce uneven density spots or clumps inside the jar. And if you have something that's too dense, the heat can't penetrate all the way through that density to the center of it to kill any type of bacteria.
Now. Within apple pie filling, of course, we, it's already acidic, so we're not worried about botulism, but there are other bacteria and molds and fungus that can be in there that the heat is helping to kill. And that's part of the reason that we do put it in a water bath and or a steam keener to fully steam canner, excuse me, to fully process it so.
If you don't have clear gel, because it's not something unless you're canning that you likely have on your shelf, you can can apple pie filling or other fruit pie fillings, and you simply omit that. So it is going to be liquidy. However, at the time of using it, you'll just create like a cornstarch slurry and heat it up.
With that cornstarch slurry to thicken it and then you'll go ahead and put it in your prepared pie plate or however you would use your pie filling. So it's just a different step on the end use part. So you can do it both ways. Um, and so if you don't have it, you can still count it. Just admit that clear gel aspect and then know you'll use your cornstarch slurry and you'll be thickening it on the end part right before serving.
Excellent. Okay. That's cool. That makes a lot of sense.
Um, in terms of canning, you mentioned there's the water bath canning, and then you mentioned that there is the, uh, electric pressure canner. Um, if there's somebody for, Oh no, not electric pressure canner. No. Oh, so you don't want to use an electric pressure cooker, um, for pressure canning.
Now there are some. Electric water bath canners, uh, Fresh Tech, I believe is the brand name, and that is safe to use for acidic water bath canning recipes only, but for actual pressure canning, there are a few, uh, one electric pressure canner that came on the market about a year, maybe two years ago, however, it has not passed any type of third party testing, so I don't personally recommend that, um, Until I've seen it undergo some third party testing, there was some units about 10 years ago that came out for electric pressure canning and upon third party testing, they all failed.
So until I see third party testing beings, I know there's been failed units in the past. Um, I don't personally recommend that. However, for water bath, there is an electric, it's called a fresh tech. I believe it's, I think it's produced by ball. Um, That is safe for water bath canning recipes. Aha. And so would you recommend that for a beginner or would you say beginner?
Just do try with an actual big pot filled with water, um, according to the instructions in your book. What would you suggest? I'm a frugal gal by nature, to be honest. And so if you are just wanting to get started with canning, I would just use a large pot with water because most of us have a large pot and have water and I would just go that route.
Now, if you start to get into it or you have, you know, issues, maybe physically it's hard for you to lift up a large pot. I know I have some people who start to have physical limitations for whatever reason, then purchasing that electric water bath canner can be fine. You are limited to size though, so it only will fit so many jars, of course.
Um, so you've got that limitation, whereas usually you can get more jars into a water bath canner than you can fit into the electric one. So if you're brand new starting out, I would do a little bit first, just using a large pot and using that as your water bath canner to make sure that you actually enjoy the food, that you enjoy the canning process.
And then if you're like, okay, I'm in like. Sold, sister. And you want to go the electric route. Then I would say go for it, but I would just do some testing first and playing around before committing to it because you can safely do it with just a large pot of water, which is something most of us just have already in the kitchen on hand.
Awesome. Awesome. Well, whoever wins our contest today. Is going to get a copy of your book and they're going to be able to Try it themselves and they're going to write me and tell me how it is. I want to know how it goes for them So it's almost time for the contest today and we will find out who the winner is in just a moment But first I would just love to say hello to those wonderful listeners that wrote me this month.
Thank you guys Hello to listeners Joe, Dawn, Hank, Erica, and Eric, and thank you so much for the positive feedback about last month's episode. That was wonderful. And I also really want to thank you guys who have taken the time to rate and review this show. This is really, really nice if you can do this. Um, people go on Apple Podcasts and they give the show a rating and a review and it just helps people to know about this show.
So thank you to Gardner and. Chief, who wrote in to say about our show, excellent guests, good questions asked, thank you so much, and also to Jenny Hope, who says that our show is one of my absolute favorite gardening podcasts, one I hope more people would find. That is so lovely. Thank you guys. I so appreciate it.
So now the time has come to find out who won today's prize. Gary in the studio. Can you help us with this? I can. Susan, I just want to let you know the studio audience is on their feet. They're very excited. Here. I think they're nervous. Scary. I think they are. I mean, I see people with their hands claps and they're, we don't know what's going on, but here's, what's going to happen.
Okay. I have all those names in a bucket. I'm going to shake that bucket. You will be able to hear that. And you tell me when to stop and I'll pull out a piece of paper and that would be our winner. Okay. You ready? Okay. Here we go.
Hold on here. Let me just see what we got here. We'll pull out a piece of paper. And the winner is
Mark H. Yay! Mark H is the, we don't know where Mark's from, but uh, the crowd is going crazy here. They're jumping over each other, Susan. This is amazing. Oh my gosh. This is great. This is, they get so excited. This studio audience. I'm telling you, Melissa, they do this every single month. They're really excited.
Like how awesome that people support each other like that. Right? I love it. Yeah. Yeah, well I'm sure Mark is gonna love it too. So Mark, I'm gonna send you an email. We're gonna get your address and Melissa will send you directly your beautiful book. And Mark, you can write me and tell me what recipes you're doing from the book.
How does that sound? I can hear Mark saying, sure, Susan. That's fine. . So, uh, thank you so much Gary for that. So that's it. I can't believe it. This was like the fastest show ever. Um, it's gone very quickly, but for the listeners,
if you want to learn more about today's topic, uh, or in general about fruit tree care, here's some things you can do, first of all, go over to orchardpeople.
com's YouTube channel. And in the next couple of days, I'm going to put this podcast up with some images that Melissa has shared with me of the apple pie filling of the. canning and stuff like that. So I'm going to edit those together so you can have a visual of this show. You can also subscribe. So every time I put up a new video, you will be notified of the new video about fruit tree care or something like this, anything around fruit trees.
So that's the first thing. The second thing you can do is go to Apple podcasts or your local podcatcher and subscribe to the urban forestry radio show podcast. And you will then be notified when there is a new episode. This is increasingly important because the secret between us and you guys out there, we are going to be changing our name soon.
So you don't want to get lost. If you're not subscribed, you may not be able to find us. And frankly, we don't quite know what our new name is going to be yet. So I would subscribe because I don't know what the name is going to be. We're all going to Figure that out somehow. I think we should have a contest.
I think we should. That's a great idea. If you have an idea for a name for this show, okay, something a little bit more fruity, orchardy, send us an email to info at orchardpeople. com and Gary and I will think up a good prize for you. What do you think? Maybe Melissa will even help and donate a book or something.
So let's, let's figure that. So if you have an idea for the new show name, Send us, send us your idea and that might be the new show name. Finally, if you want to know more about fruit trees, go to orchardpeople. com slash sign dash up, or just go to orchardpeople. com and click on the sign up button and I'll send you notices about upcoming podcasts and articles and courses and webinars all about fruit tree care.
So that's it guys. I want to thank you so much, Melissa, for coming on the show today. That was super fun. And if indeed I do successfully can apples, you will be my apple canning mama and, and you will be the one. I really now feel a personal vested interest, Susan. I got to get you canning girl. Oh my gosh.
Okay. We'll work on that. We'll work on that. Still some fears, but I'm working my way through, so it's okay. Well, thank you so much for coming today. So that's it. That was homesteading and canning expert, Melissa K. Norris of the Pioneering Today podcast and Academy. Check out her website, check out the show notes, we'll have some links for you.
And that's all for the show today. I hope you guys will join me again next month when we're going to dig into another great topic. So I'll see you guys then. Take care and bye for now.