Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Handmade Christmas - Week 2 {Apple Butter and Extracts}

Good morning! Welcome to our second week of "A Handmade Christmas"!

 Today I thought I would share some edible gift ideas. I really truly love the concept of edible gifts. Our world today (much of it anyway) has way more stuff than we need. Our homes are often cluttered (at least in this country) and we can often feel overwhelmed with "Stuff". There are many times we would like to give a gift because for us it is a way of celebrating and also lets the person know that we care about them but we often don't know of any "stuff" that the person needs or will like.

 Food gifts are a good alternative. Everybody eats (though of course not everybody likes the same foods) and when you get a gift of food you can enjoy it but it doesn't linger on for years cluttering up your home.

  Here are a couple of things that I have made (or am in the process of making) lately that I think make lovely gifts:


 Apple Butter and Honey in my opinion make lovely gifts. Honey we get from our bees and since we were blessed with so many apples this year from family and friends we were able to make Apple Butter as well.

Here is my Apple Butter Recipe:
  • 16 cups Thick Apple Pulp (core and slice apples but don't peel. Add only enough water to cook apples until soft. When cooked, puree. I like to use my immersible blender for this.)
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 8 cups sugar (I actually used less sweetener than this and some of it was honey. It was still very sweet.)
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon.
Combine all ingredients into a large pot. Cook until mixture remains in a smooth mass when a little is cooled (About 1 1/2 hours boiling). Stir frequently to prevent burning (be very careful though, it loves to pop!). Pour into jars to within 1/2 inch of the top. I processed for 5 minutes in a water bath.

  My newest experiment is making extracts! I know this is a lovely gift however as I have been blessed to receive homemade vanilla extract from my sisters and a friend. I love the homemade stuff! As I have been so blessed with gifts of vanilla I actually didn't need it but I had already had purchased some beans so I decided I had better use them up.
 To make the extracts you need an alcohol base (at least usually - I have heard of some alternative methods but haven't tried them). We do not drink alcohol so this was not something we have on hand but one day while out of town I ventured into a liquor store and was pleased to find (at least for my purposes) that Vodka wasn't very expensive. I was able to get a liter for around $7 which makes a lot of extract.

To make the Vanilla Extract I simply cut down the beans a little while still leaving the seeds intact and put them in a jar. I then covered them with vodka. I am now shaking it regularly and will let it set for a couple of months before using it.

To make Peppermint Extract Megan and I simply chopped the leaves up small. Put around 1/2 cup of them in the jar and then added 1 cup vodka and 1 cup filtered water. This we will also shake regularly. I think after a few weeks it is nearly ready to use- it smells wonderful! (Very different from the original vodka smell which was like rubbing alcohol- yuck!). We will strain out the leaves before using.

I got some of my extract making tips from The Family Kitchen and would recommend looking over their fun article which has ideas for 10 different extracts.
I am also attempting making Almond Extract from old peach pits. I guess peaches are in the same family and for making extract bitter almonds work best- and peach pits work for that. To make it you want to shell the small little nut out of the peach pit and then I read various ideas from putting the nut in whole to grinding it up. I basically left mine whole but some go a bit broken as I was shelling them. Then I covered with vodka and will shake regularly. I just got these started so I have no idea how well it will work out.

My inspiration for using pits to make extract came from a post written at Penniless Parenting.

My extracts in the making.
Have you ever made extracts? I would love to hear your tips and ideas!

What are some favorite food gifts that you have received or given?

I have decided to abandon the linky as I just can't seem to make it work for me but I would still love to have you share your ideas!

Please join my by leaving your ideas or links to Handmade Christmas ideas (gifts, decorations, food, etc..) in the comments. If you leave a link to a post with an idea in it then I will move your link up into this post so that everybody will be sure to see it!
 
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I would always appreciate it if you would be willing to spread the word about this series. Feel free to grab my Handmade Christmas Graphic above.

5 comments:

Kati said...

This sounds like a neat idea. I'll have to try it sometime.


I'd like to link up my sugar scrubs.
http://katislittlecorner.blogspot.com/2012/09/sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice.html

And I'll be putting your graphic in my sidebar.

Maria said...

I did not know about extract making! This is very exciting to me!

Thank you for the information!
~Maria

Lydia said...

Here is a link to some scarves that I am making for Christmas.

http://notafraidofthesnow.blogspot.com/2012/10/handmade-christmas-presents-linkup-and.html

SchneiderPeeps said...

I've been making vanilla extract for a couple of years. I've been wondering about lemon. Our lemon tree has been giving up some really nice lemons and I thought I could use the rind to make some extract. Now I just to take a trip to the liquor store.

Lydia said...

Thanks for stopping by and linking up your Christmas ideas. Vanilla extract is on my list of things that are in the process!

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