I really love apples. There is something about the fall tradition of going out on a sunny day and visiting an orchard. It’s actually probably the food Americans are most familiar with harvesting themselves. Way to start the trend apples!
We recently went out and picked a ton of apples. I saved quite a few for eating as-is, and decided to try making apple butter with the rest. I was turned on to apple butter last year when some friends shared a jar of their award-winning recipe (thank you Jesse and Hilary!). There is something so satisfying about sweet and spicy apple butter spread over toast. We were hooked and I wanted to give it a try myself.
As an added benefit, making apple butter gave me an opportunity to use my snazzy apple peeler and corer! I grew up using a similar device to create perfectly round and peeled dried apple rings. T and I got one for our wedding and I couldn’t have been more excited to put it to use!
It is really an incredible engineering feat that peels, cores, and slices each apple as you crank the handle. I ended up will a full pot of delicious apple insides ready to go.
I boiled the apples down with a 1/2 cup of cider until they were totally mush. I added 1 cup of brown sugar (although if I make this again I will probably only use 1/2 a cup). the juice and zest from one lemon, and cinnamon and powdered ginger to taste. The spices mixed really well with the sweet apples and slight tartness from the lemons. I ran an immersion blender through the pot a few times to make sure all the apples were completely broken down and I had a uniform consistency.
It was delicious…. but runny! I kept cooking it on low/medium hear (just enough for a light boil) for hours. Probably five hours on Sunday afternoon and then again for 2 hours on Monday night (I stuck it in the fridge in between). I had been warned by apple butter veterans to stick with it until you have a thick butter.
I was shocked by how much the butter condensed as it cooked. I went from a full pot of sliced apples to about a quarter of a pot of butter. Luckily in the end I still got nine small jars of butter, which T and I will enjoy and possibly share with a few special friends/family at Christmas.
It was a lot of work for these jars of apple butter (especially when compared to jam!), but I am confident the end product is worth it.
We recently purchased a pressure canner and we used the apple butter as our first test run. Essentially the pressure canner allows you to avoid bringing a huge pot of water to a boil (which takes forever) and cans at a higher temp/pressure so your food is even safer. In theory you can even can meat using this method, but for the time being I’ll be sticking to my usual jams, butters, and pickles.