Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Apple Butter

Maddy's Pear Post absolutely inspired me. When we got our crate of apples, I was ready to get creative with them. We've eaten a lot of apples in the past couple of weeks. I've made an apple pie, apple topping for syrup, and curried apple and roasted squash soup. As the weather got colder, I worried about our 30 odd pounds of apples that are still in the garage freezing, so I decided to try something new. I love apple butter, so I decided to go for that. Apple butter is great spread on bread, spooned onto pancakes, or stirred into steel cut oats. I looked a number of recipes and ended up going with one from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, a site I've used before. It has so much good information about canning, and recipes to go along with their clear instructions. Here is a link to the original recipe. I pretty much stuck to it, just halving it. We actually had three huge boxes of canning jars that I freecycled this year, before I warmed up to the idea of canning. Here is how I made our apple butter.

I started out with 4 pounds of Cortland apples. These apples are pretty large, and they're abour 3 to a pound. After washing thoroughly, I peeled and cored the apples, then chopped them into 1" pieces. Tip: Be sure to get all of the peel off, or you'll have problems down the road. I put the apple pieces in a large sauce pan with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of cider, brought the mixture to a boil, and continued it at a gentle boil. The mixture should get nice and soft, and reduce by about half. This took about 20 to 25 minutes. The next step was the most trying, but would have been far easier with better equipment. Luckily, there's a low tech method for the occasional canner like me. To refine the mixture, I used a sieve and the pestle from our marble mortar and pestle. (At this point I had to keep picking out pieces of the peel that I had neglected to remove from the apples originally. I had planned to leave this as a chunky apple butter, which you can do, but I changed my mind!) The sieve-pestle method actually worked incredibly well, it just took some arm strength and patience since I had to do small batches. The next step was to add a generous cup of raw sugar and brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, and about 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Simmer this mixture until the apple butter thickens. It should mound nicely on a spoon or plate and not "leak" any vinegar. This only took about 10 minutes for my apple butter. Spoon the finished apple butter into sterlized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, seal, and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Be sure to practice safe canning methods! I was very pleased with how the apple butter turned out. Now we'll have a comforting fresh apple taste from a local orchard all through the winter.


Anonymous ~Lori said...

It sounds scrumptious! This is definitely on my list, particularly since it turns out my E5 is exceedingly fond of the stuff.

Oh, and it's also great mixed into cottage cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Got a cow share yet? :)

9:40 PM  

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