Apple Butter

20131008-132332.jpgApples are so abundant late September, early October.  Florrie and I had gone apple picking the weekend before and I had a bag filled with apples in my kitchen, looking questioningly at me. I like apples, but I’m not a big apple eater, preferring instead to bake them into lovely goodness.   Since my bag of apples was starting to languish – it was inevitable- I figured I would make something that requires 4lbs of apples.  Apple Butter!  I love me some apple butter. Its great on toast, pancakes, ice cream, mixed in to yogurt. It can take the place of jam in a range of food scenarios too.  I mixed a gorgeous combination of tart and sweet and crisp apples to make this batch of butter.  Honey Crisp, Jonah Gold, Cortland (the best baking apples in my opinion)  If you use a food mill don’t worry about peeling and coring. If you aren’t, peel and core before chucking into the pot.

I looked over some apple butter recipes before I decided what I would do.  I was shocked at the amount of sugar some of them called for.  4lbs apples:4 cups sugar. UGH. Gross. No.  These little beauties were already sweet, and I knew that once they had cooked down, condensed and caramelized they would be even sweeter.  I pared that measurement down to 1/2 cup.  I wanted the apples to really shine.

To Make:

4lbs apples (dealer’s choice)  quartered

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground clove

1/8 tsp ground all spice

jars to store the butter

Put quartered apples into a heavy bottomed pot with the water and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes until apples are cooked through and soft.   I was using the same pot to reduce the apples, so I poured the hot mixture into a big bowl so I could mill the apples directly into the pot.

Set your food mill, with the medium plate inserted over the pot and ladle in the apples, milling them to remove the seeds, cores and skins.  Discard solids.

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Add spices and sugar to the apples, stir and simmer, uncovered over very low heat for about 90 minutes, stirring about every 15 minutes or so. You want the water to evaporate and the apples to condense and caramelize. Scrape the bottom to make sure you don’t get scorch marks.  You should notice the bottom getting lovely and dark and thick.  The overall texture will thicken over time and darken as the sugars in the apples begin to caramelize.

Its ‘done’ when you can drag the spoon along the bottom of the pot and the apple butter doesn’t immediately fill the gap back in.  You can now can the apple butter to keep it and give as gifts, or just fill up a container and pop it in the fridge. Un-canned apple butter will last at least two weeks in the fridge.

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I know what you may be thinking… “Where’s the cinnamon?”  I find that its a common tendency to smother anything baked with apples in cinnamon.  I think that’s generally a bad idea. I find cinnamon cloying, overpowering and I wanted the apples to really shine with just a hint of spice to it.  I nearly always substitute all spice for cinnamon  and nearly always reduce the quantity as well.  I imagined some of these apple butter recipes coming out like cinnamon apple candy, and that thought didn’t make me happy.  No sir.

This batch of apple butter though, made me very happy! Its tangy, a little bit sweet, gently spiced and so so so apple-y. Its gorgeous! Coffee,toast, butter and apple butter for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do!

-Marie

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