Apples, picked and preserved

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Nine Years.  That’s how long I have been living in Switzerland.  What a twisty, turn path it’s been!  It has had its ups and downs and sidesteps, but overall I am quite happy to call this country home.  I can’t say there has been culture shock here, but rather cultural refitting.  So much was similar to the US, but so much also slightly different.  Little things, that honesty, I can’t put a finger on any more.  Some things, such as how a grocery store is arranged.  Funny.  I now know it’s different, but I can’t remember how it was in the US.  The things become normal – and surprise others who haven’t been here as long.  As in, when you ask the cashier how she is, she will tell you about her back hurting and needing to go have back surgery soon. In the US, it’s just a greeting.

I first moved here as a student/researcher for crystallography and geology.  If you asked me then if I would be leaving Academia, I would have laughed.  Then I went into industry in an R&D department.  When I started, I certainly never though in my wildest dreams I would then join the Sales department as a Key Account Manager.  Then I never dreamed that I would become a Hausfrau.  Yet here I am.  (Disclaimer: I am looking for work again, as not working is definitly not for me!)

In any case, the weather has turned and it is time to use up the harvested fruit and veg.  A few weeks ago I went with a friend to her father’s colleague’s farm to go apple picking.  We picked a whole variety of apples from trees so old that they were starting to break apart and fall over.  While it was sunny here in Bern, in the foothills of the Juras it was rainy.  Nevermind – there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, right?

Don’t answer that.

In any case, we picked a ton of apples and had a blast doing so.  The thing is, when you go apple picking you always wind up with a lot more than you actually need or have plans for.  Fortunately, I had quite a bit of space in the crisper drawer of my fridge, so in they went.  I ate one here and there, and I had grand plans for them too – pies, cakes, pancakes, etc.  But what I would up doing with them was the simplest and least amount of work: Apple Butter.

It’s a very easy thing to make, and uses up a large amount of fruit all at once (freeing up space to then get filled with all sorts of other things). I have a plan for a more complex recipe coming up, but the first step requires a batch of apple butter.

Not so much a recipe, but rather a very rough guideline. Just peel, core and roughly chop a variety of apples.  Toss into a slow cooker. I added only a half cup of raw sugar, since my plans for this include adding it to other sweet dishes – add more or less sugar to taste. Then 2 cinnamon sticks, pinch of salt and a couple teaspoons of vanilla bean paste.  Put it on low and cook for 20-24 hours, until it is super dark and thick.  Give it a whiz with a stick blender, pop it into clean jars and you’re done!  If you are feeling motivated, you can do the whole proper sterilization process.  But I plan on using it within a few weeks, so into the refrigerator should be fine.

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