Apple Butter

It's a beautiful afternoon!  And by beautiful I mean mid-seventies, still, grey, and rainy.  Thunder rumbles far off in the distance and I've seen the occasional faint flash of lightning.  I'm holding out hope for an honest-to-goodness thunderstorm; autumn storms are a delight to my heart.  I love how even when the sky is clouded over, the trees stand out bright and cheerful in their changing colours.  Some people may deplore the rain, but I love it!

I've spent the afternoon studying for a psychology test.  I think I might find this class interesting if I had a better teacher: as it is, the class is boring, and most of the material seems to be either just giving names to common-sense ideas, or complete nonsense.  Needless to say I don't find it very inspiring.  So I took a study break and hung some posters in my bedroom!  It's always been homey but now it looks... settled.  I'm happy with it :)

In honour of the autumnal weather, I thought I'd post my recipe (such as it is) for apple butter.  I made this this summer - our apples come in really early - but it's about the right time for fall apples now and I think a pot of sauce slowly simmering down into butter would be the perfect accompaniment to this rainy day!


Apple Butter


Wash and quarter tart apples. If you have a food mill, don't bother peeling or removing skins - if you don't have one, go ahead and do that. Cook in water (or apple cider, or a mixture - this heightens the apple flavour!) until soft and disintegrating. The amount of liquid sort of depends on your apples - always put in at least enough to keep them from sticking/burning; I usually fill the pot until the liquid shows under the top layer of apples.  I have any cider but I think it would have been even better with it.
When the apples are soft enough, put them through a food mill, or if you're skipping that step, just cook the fruit until it is falling apart and apple-sauce consistency. Then put the apple into a heavy pan - I used our 8-quart enameled cast-iron casserole dish, which was perfect for the huge batch I was making. Season the sauce: a little sugar (to taste - don't overdo it!), cinnamon, nutmeg, a tiny bit of clove, maybe some allspice. Some recipes say a splash of lemon juice - I think I did this in one batch but not in another. And you can always adjust and put in more of something, so again, don't overdo it.
Then put this pot on the stove over low heat, with a heat diffuser if you've got one, and just cook it down until it's lost some moisture and is the consistency you like. It will get gradually darker and thicker. I cooked all my batches at least 24 hours - on the lowest heat with a diffuser on my gas stove. I honestly can't remember if I left it on overnight or turned off the flame while I was asleep - may have done both, with different batches. Somewhere between the halfway cooking point and the point at which your butter is almost ready, run it through a blender - this smoothes out the texture and makes it less grainy. (I tried blending it before the long cooking stage, but it didn't work as well and I had to go back and repeat later, so it's definitely not worth it!) Taste at intervals and adjust sweetening/seasoning if necessary - and STIR. A lot. I would guess at least every 10-20 minutes it needs to be stirred, thoroughly and making sure you get the bottom, because this does tend to stick/burn if you don't watch it.

This is about 1/2 way through the cooking-down process.

Then you just put it into canning jars, freeze, or keep for immediate use!

My grandfather used to always keep us supplied with Pennsylvania Dutch apple butter, which was WONDERFUL - so dark it's almost black, really thick, and such a full flavour - but we don't see him very often and the family eats huge quantities of it, so I thought I'd try making it. It's not quite the same but it's a fairly acceptable substitute - and my picky brothers, who are apple butter connoisseurs, gave it a thumbs-up :-)


(I apologise for the weird font sizes and formatting on this post - I can NOT get it to cooperate!)

Comments

  1. This looks and sounds lovely! We have apples right now and I'm trying to think of ways to use them up. I will have to give this method a try! I have made it before in a crock pot but I think it cooked down too much that way. Ymmmm. . .nothing better than apple butter spread thickly on a piece of sweet fresh homemade bread!

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  2. Homemade apple butter has always been my favorite, and just that picture makes me miss it.

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