|Spiced Apple Rings|
The foods available to Canada's pioneers depended largely on what region of the country they settled in. Years ago I used to follow a more sustainable lifestyle like my own mother and her mother before her. At the end of the growing season we would spend countless hours pickling, boiling, prepping and canning fruits and vegetables for a long Canadian winter. Over the years I have many excuses to no longer do as much canning..in fact my canning is very limited due to lack of time and an aversion to the kitchen in the summer heat. Over the years I have given my jars and canning equipment away thinking I would never can again. A far cry from the years when my counters used to be filled with mustard beans, salsa, canned tomatoes, pickled onions, icicle and dill pickles, pickled beets and the odd fruit jam. The most special treat I would afford myself was a nice canned cherries jubilee or my favourite recipe for blueberries in a simple syrup. I would make it really special with the inclusion of a tablespoon or two (or three) of Grand Marnier or Cointreau. For the holidays I would give these treasures away as gifts until the following year when I would start the process all over again. Christmas baskets were once laden with my efforts.
I was initially drawn to canning and preserving because it produces something that endures – there’s a finished product that you can enjoy over time. My mom taught me the basics but it wasn’t until I grew my own garden or frequented farmers’ markets that I realized I could buy produce in season and make it last throughout the year.
'Preserving - Our Canadian Food Tradition' was this months challenge in The Canadian Food Experience Project which began in June, 2013. Please join us or on Valerie's Facebook Page as we embrace our nation.
This story and the recipe below continues my year long challenge from Valerie of A Canadian Foodie called The Canadian Food Experience Project. Valerie was one of the lucky few who attended the very first Canadian Food Bloggers Conference north of Toronto in April. Her experience inspired her to dig deep within herself, to discover what it meant to be a Canadian in our melting pot of food culture. She has challenged us to find our truly Canadian voice and connect with each other coast to coast through food, stories and experiences. The hope is that we will discover our truly Canadian voice and identity in this diverse country as we share our discoveries. By recounting local experiences such as this we are able to be inspired by the amazingness of other people, the world around us, and a sense of place. You can’t help but come out the other end loving what is unique about yourself. Through this exercise we will find our own individual – not to mention collective – voice. After a year of discovery we will hear ourselves a little more clearly.
To discover what it means to be a "food enthusiast" in Canada it is like peeling away the layers of an onion. By methodically removing each layer of the onion, you are able to appreciate the complexities at each level as you eventually reach the core where you can objectively define the answers. When you use a metaphor, such as "peeling away another layer," you visualize a central concept (a heart or core) that is buried within.
At this moment in time I am getting closer to the central core and defining what it means to be a Canadian in our food culture. I have lived in 4 out of 10 provinces, grew up in a British family where Yorkshire pudding and jello were the norm. My perception of how the melting pot of Canadian cuisine can be defined is muddled. By participating in Valerie's challenge I hope to sharpen my senses and dispel this mental fog.
British Columbia’s southern interior boasts fertile soil and a wonderful climate that facilitates the growth of fruit and an exploding wine industry. This region was ripe for the development of an agricultural sector. With reference to the British Columbian interior this can refer to the tobacco industry, packing houses, canneries, transportation companies, refrigeration companies, amongst other ventures that have all blossomed at one point in time.
The canning industry in the Okanagan can be seen to have existed for about one hundred years. The first significant event occurred in 1892 and this is where the story of the canning industry in the Okanagan begins. The first cannery, Vernon Canning and Jam Co., was established when Lord and Lady Aberdeen purchased property at Coldstream Ranch in that year. The Okanagan’s first cannery was established to produce jam, but never entered production commercially and was eventually purchased by Dominion Canners and then Southern Oksnagan Cannery Ltd. The company initially canned tomatoes under the Alymer brand, but later canned just fruit. There was a terrible fire at the site in 1919 and operations ceased altogether in 1922. There were many other canning companies in the Okanagan which met their demise from Lake Country to Oliver. The Okanagan fruit canning industry reached its zenith in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Thereafter the industry fell away and had dwindled significantly by the mid- 1960s. From my research it is clear that demand for canned products such as those once produced in the Okanagan has disappeared almost entirely by this time.
In 1937 the Kelowna based Modern Foods was established. The plant processed dehydrated apples, concentrate, juice and vinegar. The Sun Rype brand was established in 1939. The plant was sold to B.C. Fruit Processors (which later became Sun Rype) in 1946. This is the only company that is still in operation today manufacturing fruit juices available across the country and other products.
I would like to fix just this kind of homey, traditional Thanksgiving feast this year, so the apple rings will be right at home.
I learned this particular recipe at this years Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop from a canning session with B.C. Tree Fruits. They are made by simply simmering cored, sliced apples in a sugar syrup that's been spiced with cloves and, if you wish, dyed red with food colouring. Stack the cooked apple rings on a cinnamon stick in clean, heated canning jars and ladle the hot syrup over them. Close the jars with canning lids and process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath to seal them shut.
Please take the time to visit as many of the participants as possible.
**Spiced Apple Rings**
recipe from BC Fruit Growers
6 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups white vinegar
3 cups (preferably bottled) clean water
apples (2-3 per jar)
dry whole spices, such as star anise, cardamom, cloves
lemon juice (to prevent apples from browning)
6 x 24 oz (tall asparagus style) jars
6 x 2-piece sealer and ring lids
Large stockpot with canning rack
COMBINE sugar, vinegar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Be sure sugar has melted, then turn off heat.
WASH and dry apples. Have lemon juice standing by. Cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each apple, then core the apples.
CUT 4-5 thick horizontal slices from each apple and dip in lemon juice. Put some spices in the bottom of each jar – just 2-3 of each spice. Rebuild apples in the bottle, stacking them so hot liquid can circulate. Insert a cinnamon stick through centre of apples (where the cores used to be.)
STERILIZE jars by cleaning in the dishwasher. Place lids in boiling water to soften the sealer ring.
POUR enough hot sugar/vinegar mixture over apples to completely fill to the rim – no headspace. Gently push down on apples to loosen any air bubbles.
CLEAN jar rims, put hot sealer lid on and screw tight.
PLACE jars in canning pot and bring to a rolling boil for 15 minutes. Add some cool water to the canner at the end, wait 15 minutes then remove jars and allow to cool. Let sit for several weeks before serving.
You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.