How to Make Apple Butter
After a summer hiatus it is time to get back into the swing of The Daring Kitchen challenges. The official line for this month is: The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Apple Butter. Two little words that invoke vivid memories of the first month of school and a kitchen filled with the scent of warm apples and cinnamon. Each fall when the apple trees near my childhood home filled with ripe fruit, my mom would quickly follow her famous apple cake with a big batch of apple butter. I never understood that apple butter didn’t actually contain real butter. The smooth decadent texture will have any kid convinced that mom has temporarily forgotten her judicious butter rules and is allowing a free for all in which you can slather apple butter on anything you like. I would beg for apple butter on my peanut butter and honey sandwiches and would take nothing else to school for lunch until it was gone.
The recipe for apple butter could not be more simple. You basically make a sweet applesauce and then continue to simmer away until the apples turn into a rich and thick spread. All you need are apples, apple cider, a few spices, a large pot, and two hours around the house. The challenge asked that participants preserve the apple butter by either canning or freezing. While I did conquer my fear of canning this summer I decided that freezing was the way to go this time around. 5 lbs of apples left me with about 6 cups of apple butter.
One taste of the thick spiced spread and my best intentions of freezing the results flew out the window. Visions of apple butter on sourdough toast, steel cut oatmeal with apple butter swirled in, and a bowl of vanilla ice cream with warm apple butter on top filled my head. I did put the apple butter in freezer safe containers, but for now they are resting happily in the fridge where I imagine they will not stay for long!
5 lbs. Apples, peeled, sliced, and cored (Use a firm, tart sauce variety such as Cortland or Granny Smith.)
1 cup Apple Cider (Have leftover cider? How about making a mulled apple cider with rum?)
1/4-1/2 cup Honey, Brown Sugar, or Agave Syrup – to taste
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Cloves
1/2 teaspoon Allspice
Pinch of Salt
Place apples and apple cider in a large pot over low heat, uncovered. Cook apples slowly, stirring occasionally, until they begin to fall apart, about one hour. Use a potato masher or a stick blender to puree the apples. You can either puree until the mixture is completely smooth or you can leave small chunks, depending on your preference. Taste the apple puree and add in honey, brown sugar, or agave syrup until it reaches your desired level of sweetness. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Continue to cook the apple puree over low heat until it thickens, stirring frequently to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The apple butter is finished cooking when you can drop a spoonful on a plate and it forms a stiff mound that does not have liquid running around the bottom edge. Let the apple butter cool and then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer for a year.