I picked up some tart Spy apples at the Kitchener Market yesterday so I decided to try something from the Relishes section of the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. I am making Apple Catsup from a recipe submitted by Mrs. Staebler. It is late in the year to make a preserve like this but it is a good way to use up winter stored apples that are getting soft.
There are a number of possible Mrs. Staeblers so I haven’t been able to determine who submitted this recipe.
Apparently I haven’t always noted when I’ve made 1/2 a recipe rather than the full one so I’ll try to do that from now on. Today’s recipe is an example. Rather than make more apple catsup than I could ever use (especially if it wasn’t very good) I used just six apples. I peeled and quartered them and then put them in a saucepan with just a little water on the bottom. I covered the pot and let them simmer away until soft which took well over half an hour. I drained the apples and started trying to sieve them. This took much longer than I expected but was very effective at getting a fine textured apple sauce. This was a moment when I remembered how the world has changed. In 2012 I could have pulled out an electric food processor and finished this task quickly. Instead I spent about 20 minutes pressing my soft apple pieces through the sieve just like Mrs. Staebler.
Next I measured the sieved apples and found I had 2 cups (1/2 a quart) so I continued adding the rest of the ingredients in half the amount listed. I used black pepper, dried mustard powder and white vinegar along with the ground cinnamon, cloves and onions. I let the apple catsup simmer for an hour as the house filled with the pleasant scent of apples, cinnamon and vinegar. I eventually noted a change in the smell … it was starting to burn because I had the heat a little too high. I recommend giving it a stir every so often and checking it every 15 minutes or so.
Catsup or ketchup has been around a long time. Today people using think of tomato catsup/ketchup but there were many different kinds in the 19th and early 20th centuries. All sort of ingredients like mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, walnuts, bananas, and apples could be turned into zesty sauces called catsups. They tended to be thinner than the tomato catsup/ketchup used for dipping french fries today. The word is part of the history of this sauce and the history of the expanding British Empire but there are conflicting theories as to which country’s word they mangled to make ketchup/catsup. No matter as nearly every part of the world has some sort of condiment to accompany food.
Mrs. Staebler’s apple catsup is nice. The onion bits give a bit of texture to what is basically a vinegary apple sauce. In 1912 this sauce would go nicely with pork instead of apple sauce. It might also be used with mayonnaise in a meat sandwich. In 2012 it could be used on a good burger or with curry dishes just like a fruit based chutney. Now I’m wishing I’d made the full recipe as I have just 1 pint (2 cups) of this zesty sauce.
Peel and quarter 1 dozen sound tart apples, stew until soft in as little water as possible, then press through a sieve; to 1 quart of the sifted apple add 1 teacup sugar, 1 teaspoon pepper 1 of cloves, 1 of mustard, 2 of cinnamon and 2 medium-sized onions, chopped very fine. Stir all together, adding 1 tablespoon salt and 1 pint vinegar. Boil 1 hour and seal, while hot, in pint preserve jars.