(also seen on Cafe Zupas blog)
Apples are in abundance this season and apple butter is an easy recipe that takes little preparation, even less hands on time, and lots of apples.
This apple butter recipe is from a vintage cookbook that had no measurements, so you know the recipe is tried and true. Most of it is eyeballed and according to your own taste. So every time you make it, it'll be your best batch.
I remember eating apple and peanut butter sandwiches as a child. I can't remember having it homemade, but when I saw this recipe and how easy it was, I bookmarked it along with a peach butter recipe to try this month.
Unfortunately my peach butter did not turn out as well as I would have hoped. Let's just say that peaches cook a lot faster than apples do. So although Hub and I are thinking about making it into fruit leather, it may simply end up in the "rubbish bin". hehe that reminds me of a certain story...
As for the apple butter, it turned out famously. It's so yummy in fact, I had to hide our opened jar in the back of the refrigerator so Hub wouldn't eat it all. I wanted to have another photo shoot with it, but he found it, and the jar is now nearly empty. Good thing this is only the beginning of apple season.
Here's how we made it.
making it the old fashioned way.
Fresh, unclarified apple juice (you know, the unpasteurized kind that's not great for little kids to drink; don't worry, we'll boil it down.)
a few pounds of yummy locally picked apples (depending on how much you're making)
a little vanilla
any other spices you fancy, adore, and love
The best apples to use are: Jonathan, Winesap, Stayman, Golden Delicious, Maclntosh, or another tasty variety, just pick your favorite. :)
In a large stock pot bring the cider to a boil. Let it boil down on medium heat until it's about half the amount you started with. This will assure that any bacteria (the reason little kids shouldn't drink it raw) is surely murdered.
I like the word 'murdered' better than simply 'killed'. It's definitely an intentional act, so it's murder. Not like what happened with my peach butter though. I definitely tried to save it's life, so it was killed, not murdered. Killed by my neglect. I guess we have next year...
On to the next step; pare (that means peel), core and quarter your apples, then slice them up into thinner slices and toss into a crock pot. The bigger your crock, the more apple butter you'll get, no crock about it. hehe okay I'm sorry, no more lame jokes. (update :: keep the peels on, they provide natural pectin which helps to thicken the butter)
After the juice has reduced to half its amount, add it to the apples until they are just covered, reserving whatever juice may be left. You don't have to get rid of the sludgy looking stuff in the juice. I figure it probably came from the apple and it's likely safe to eat, so I keep it in. Although if it makes you squirm, by all means, throw it out.
Let the apples and juice sit, ruminate, boil and cook in the crock pot on high until it begins to boil (bubble along the edges). Reduce the heat to low and let it cook for 8-10 hours. After about 8 hours, check it every so often (half hour) to assure it's not burning. Or just start it in the evening and let it cook on low while you sleep. When you awake it'll likely be finished.
Take a fork and break up the apple pieces, if they aren't already broken down. When the butter gets to the consistency that you like, press the apples through a colander, food mill, or strainer. Or like I did with my peach butter (that passed away), throw half of it in the blender and blend for a couple seconds until it's all smooth and delicious. I kind of like the little chunks in the apple butter.
The consistency should be where if you spoon it there is no liquid separating from it and it stays "mounded", like butter. If it is too thick, add in more of your reserved apple juice. Don't add in fresh apple juice because the bacteria hasn't been murdered yet, meaning it's not safe to can.
Now this is the fun part. Add whatever and how ever much spices you like according to taste. "Goutez, goutez, goutez!" Try adding a little molasses, or if you want it sweeter, add honey. Honestly I don't think you'll need the extra sweetener but it's your recipe, make it up! Go with your taste buds. That's why I like that there's no real "recipe" because each batch will be it's own in taste and dynamics. Of course, if you really really like it a certain way, write it down so you remember for the next time. And believe me, after this, you'll be itching for "the next time".
I set the camera down to grab something and looked at the back screen and saw this wonderful change of perspective, I love when things just happen like that.
Pour the butter straight into jars if you plan to keep them all in the fridge or process it into jars and keep for a year or so. Process the jars the same way you would for any other type of jam, preserve, etc. If you do plan on canning the butter to store (out of fridge), make sure you leave a little bit of head room in the jar for the butter.
I made about three half pint jars with a little extra (that Hub ate soon after) and goodness I can't wait for the Jonathan's to peak at Verd's and Allred's. My town's farmers' market ends this weekend. I wish I would have made this when they were selling their delicious honey crisp apples, those are a favorite around here. Should-ah would-ah could-ah I suppose.
If you want to try making peach butter, like I did, follow the same recipe and directions except watch the peaches a bit more closely. Peaches cook faster than apples do, they don't need as much time to break down, so cook them only on the low setting. Use "dead ripe" white peaches, and skin and seed them before putting them in the crock pot. (I'll post a 'how to' for skinning/prepping peaches soon).
Here are a few local apple orchards if you live in Utah County. Of course if you live in provo or along the southern end I highly recommend this orchard, have I mentioned that I really like their produce?
Here are some great tips for more apple canning and preserving ideas. I want to try the dried slices and like I mentioned before, fruit leather.
Are you thinking of the nearest apple stand now? I do hope so.
Looking for new posts?
I've been blogging over at Our Sleeping Flowers these days. Still me, and still delicious, come join me!