Two wings lift a person up from earthy concerns: simplicity and purity. Simplicity should be in intention, purity in feelings. Simplicity reaches out after God, purity catches hold and tastes. ~ Thomas A’Kempis

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Apple Butter & Castile Soap

Yesterday I made Apple Butter, as we had a lot of Granny Smith apples ripe on our tree and Braeburn apples were only $1.00 a kilo at the supermarket this week (unheard of).
The History of Apple Butter and I: I first tried Apple Butter while visiting friends in America and instantly fell in love with its warm cinnamony flavor and as its not available to buy in New Zealand, I knew I would have to make it myself if I was ever going to experience that lovely flavor again. I made my first batch back in 2013 and still found a jar of it lurking in the back of my preserves pantry, so I opened it this morning and surprisingly it still smelt okay and even tasted apple butter-ish :). However I decided to throw it out, since it was now 4 years old !!!
I think from memory a friend gave me the original Apple Butter recipe I use, which I've tweaked a little bit. Last time I made it, I boiled it for longer and it was darker. When I was reseaching Apple Butter I discovered that in Wales (I think it's Wales, they make Black Butter. It's basically well cooked Apple Butter with a stick of licoriche stirred in at the end. So it must have a slight Anise flavour and be black - fun !!! Anyways, this time I only cooked the apple butter mixture for about 5 hours (as opposed to 8 hours last time !!!), and used my stick blender at the very end to make it extra extra  velvety smooth and creamy.

I even had to use my pestle and mortar and hand grind some cloves, as I couldn't
find the little box of ground cloves. I was surprised they yielded easily to my 
pestle with little effort.
 The pureed mixture.
 Beginning to cook the mixture further.
 After 3 hours...
 After 5 hours..
 Tad da.. Yield about 9 x jars of delicious apple butter

Here's my recipe:
* A P P L E   B U T T E R *

16 - 18 good size apples (peel, core, chop small)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 cups apple juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. In a large saucepan, cook the chopped apples and apple juice until the apples are soft. Stir in the sugars and spices, until sugar melts.
2. Place the mixture in batches in a food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Add the whole pureed mixture to a crock pot and cover with a lid. Cook on high for 3 hours with the lid on, stirring every now and then. When the time is up, remove the lid and continue to cook on high to allow excess liquid to evaporate and the mixture to reduce, by at least 1/3 rd and up till 1/2 if you want it extra thick. I just reduced by a 1/3 rd.
4. Using a stick blender, puree the mixture until its silky smooth.
5. Place clean sterilized jars to heat in the oven 100 C for about 15 minutes.
6. Ladle the mixture into jars one at a time. Wipe around the rim of the jar and dry. Place the clean seal & ring or lid on top and screw down firmly. 
7. Label, leave until complete;y cold and store in a cool dark cupboard. 
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C A S T I L E    S O A P 

M Y  C A S T I L E  S O A P  M A K I N G  P R O C E S S

 Trace is reached (leaves a trail)
 In the mold. I cut 8 bars (fat ones )

I've wanted to make a very pure Castile soap for a long time and don't know what was stopping me? So I finally got around to it a couple of days ago. I'd watched a YouTube video of a lady testing her bars of Castile Soap out and it got me hooked. She had bars ranging in age from 1 week - 18 months old..! The difference in lather was incredible. Castile soaps like all hand made soap create glycerin in the saponifying process, which makes them milder than commercial soap and perfect for people with sensitive skin. Castile (Pure Olive Oil) & Aleppo (Cooked Olive Oil & Laurel Berry Oil Soap) are the oldest known soaps, originating in the mediterranean regions. A Bastile Soap contains a combination of coconut oil and olive oil, but needs to have at least 75% Olive oil to be a true Bastile Soap.

Castile soap needs to be cured for quite a long time (from 6 months to a year), where it becomes very rock hard and mild. Even mild enough for babies delicate skin. I've never cured a soap for that long before, so I have no idea what will happen. As we are in Autumn (April) now, it won't even be ready to use until October !!! Lets hope it still smells fresh...that's the one thing I am concerned about, although many of my other soaps are still fine after that period of time.  I think thats why traditional Aleppo soap is cooked, as then all the water is gone from it and only pure soap remains. This probably helps it stay fresher longer too?

Anyway I am very very happy with the results of my Castile Soap. It has a silky smooth texture and smells divine. Initially I was going to leave it unscented, but in the end I went with an essential oil blend of Lavender, Rosemary & Litsea Cubeba. It smells only subtely of Rosemary, with more of the warm citrussy floral Litsea coming through..just lovely. I also stirred through some Calendula Petals. 

The next soap I would like to try is an Aleppo Soap, but as its very hard to source Laurel Berry Oil, and I don't think its even available within New Zealand, the only way I could get my hands on some would be to visit the Mediteranean myself :) or ask a friend to bring me some back. I know they sell it in Australia, but the shipping costs would make it one very expensive bar of soap !!

CASTILE SOAP - 100% Olive Oil. This soap can be used all over the face & body and as a mild shampoo. It is also excellent for shaving and leaves the skin thoroughly moisturized. It's even mild and gentle enough for babies delicate skin.

ALEPPO SOAP - Saponified Olive Oil (Sodium Olivate), Bay Laurel Oil, Water, Salt Laurel Berry Oil gives Aleppo its distinctive aroma and colour (greenish/brown) and is also a natural antibacterial ingredient, which helps to thoroughly cleanse the skin

BASTILE SOAP - 75% Olive Oil - 25% Coconut Oil.  

Here's a good link to a recipe for an Aleppo Soap, which I would love to try one day.

M Y   C A S T I L E  S O A P
(freshly cut after 48 hours) Creamy and pale already.
When its fully cured (6 months to a year), it will be whiter still and rock hard,
with a gentle lather and small creamy bubbles.

Watch this space, for an update in 6 months :)

Bye for now xoxo

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