The principle of the food swap is simple-- ingeniously so. Home canners and bakers and picklers and cooks gather together with food items they've made, and not only swap foods, but swap the stories that surround them and share recipes, techniques and tips. A fellow swapper might share how her family always had a tub of store-bought pimento cheese in the fridge, but that now she makes her own, mayonnaise and all. Another might tell you just how easy Earl Grey-infused gin is to make, or how elderberry syrup is just the perfect thing for a sore throat. On top of that, the swap works on barter, outside the monetary system, with homemade food packaged mostly in reusable jars--take THAT industrial food system!
That Sunday afternoon above the bike shop was nothing but positive. I came away inspired to try out new recipes and I came home with dinner, dessert, and plentiful additions to my liquor cabinet and pantry. Cheesy as it may sound, I also came away with new friends!--some I'd been meaning to meet, and some I should have long ago.
To find out more about the DC Food Swap, check out their website and also visit Jess' blog for several wonderful posts about it and the philosophy behind it. If you don't live in DC, you can find out if there's one near you via the Food Swap Network or go on ahead and start your own!
In the spirit of swapping and you know, to loop it around back to pie, here's the recipe I use for apple butter, which I brought plenty of to the swap. It also provides a wonderful base for an apple or cranberry-lime galette, and would probably be just delicious in a Bakewell Tart.
Adapted from The River Cottage Preserves Handbook
Makes 4-5 8-ounce jars
3-4 lbs. cooking apples
2 ½ c. apple cider
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. allspice
1. Core and chop the apples into large pieces and place them in a large stockpot with the cider and 2 ½ c. water. Cook them on medium-high heat until they are very soft, about 20 minutes, then remove them from the heat.
2. Process the apples through a sieve or food mill until it is reduced to a purée—essentially apple sauce. This will also allow you to remove the apple skins and seeds. Measure the puree quantity and return it to the cleaned stockpot. for every cup of puree, add 2/3 c. sugar.
3. Add spices (the above are suggested spices but feel free to omit some and add others according to your preference). On medium heat, bring the purée to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Then boil the mixture rapidly for 10-15 minutes until the mixture begins to sputter. Reduce heat to medium-low and keep the apple butter at a rolling simmer until it reduces substantially, and is dark, thick and creamy. This could take an hour or longer.
4. Once the apple butter has reached the right consistency, remove it from the heat and pour into hot sterilized jars. seal immediately, following proper canning instructions for food safety. Use within 1 year and keep in the fridge once opened.