Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Birthday Spurtle and what I did with it...


My birthday is Hallowe'en, and yes, the apostrophe indicates that you know how to properly spell the word! ("e'en" is a contraction for "evening") As a child it was much akin to a Christmas birthday -but it's gotten much more fun the older I get. This year, my friend, Joni happened to be visiting from Scotland where she's lived with her husband for many years. And she brought me a spurtle!!! I was soooo excited :-) The spurtle is that lovely turned piece of wood in the pic above - and it's been used since the 15th century to stir.... porridge! The Golden Spurtle Porridge Making Championship competition is held in Carrbridge Scotland every year.

I quickly chopped and steamed up some of the delicious apples Stan and Bev brought down, ran them through the chinois, and added some spices for Apple Butter making...



The spurtle lived up to it's reputation - the rounded end fitting evenly against the ceramic sides of the pot - not one lump was left after a few minutes of stirring. So, we sent the butter into the oven for a few hours, and later canned it up - yum!!
Very Good Gingered Apple Butter

*this is more like "the technique" than a recipe with measured amounts *

Core and roughly chop several apples -you don't have to peel or seed them, but cut out the bad spots. I filled up my 5 qt. cast iron enameled pot.
add about 2" water to the pot and simmer until the apples are easily mushed -
about 15 minutes.
Place your chinois or food mill over a large bowl or another large pot, and press the apples through. This separates the peels and seed out, and also creates a "saucy" texture!
Pour the apple mush back into the (wiped out) original pot, and place on the stove top over medium heat. Turn on the oven as well - to 300 degrees, and let it heat up a bit.
Add the following spices, to taste :
cinnamon
ginger
cardamom
anything else on the shelf look like a contender?
for my pot of sauce, i used about 2 tbs. each. then i added more ginger :-)
Now, get out your sugar bin. Add some in - maybe a cup or two. Taste it - should taste like good "applesauce". We don't really like ours too sweet - and after everything is cooked down, the flavors will be greatly concentrated. Stir everything about until it's nicely bubbling.
Pretend you are a Scottish witch from 1709 if you are using your new spurtle.
When it's nice and bubbly, open the oven and place the pot, uncovered, in the oven on the middle rack. Let it simmer there for about 2-3 hours. You'll know when it's done because not only will it smell lovely, it will have reduced by at least 1/3, and be thick and dark brown.

I can it in pints or 1/2 pints - 15 minutes in the water bath canner.





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