I’m still working my way through all the apples we brought home from the orchard, so please bear with me; I'm planning on wearing you down and feeding you apples every which way for awhile. But I make no apologies for this one, people. I really love apple butter, but it’s almost impossible to find it made without corn syrup and other additives, so, of course, the answer is to make it myself. And this is some super delicious stuff.
Now, I’ve tried making apple butter before and have never been real happy with the results. But I think I’ve figured out a few things, and thought I’d pass it along to you, just in case you adore the stuff as much as I do.
It really isn’t hard to make apple butter, but it does take a little time and some patience. It also helps if you have these two pieces of equipment…
Namely, a food mill and a hand blender. These are actually two of my favorite kitchen tools ever. They both made the list of my top 5 favorite kitchen gadgets and if you are in possession of them, you will find making apple butter a breeze.
If you have a food mill, that means you won’t have to peel your apples. Yay!! First you will quarter and core your apples and cook them with some apple cider for about 30 minutes. Then run the whole shebang through a food mill which will separate out the skins and any core or seeds that were accidently left in there. Now you basically have a very loose applesauce, and to this you will add your sugar and spices.
Then you will cook it. And cook it. And cook it. Occasionally you will stir it, but mostly you will just let it cook down (I let it go for 8 hours). The longer it cooks, the thicker it gets and the more concentrated the flavors are.
At this point, most recipes ask you to run your apple butter through a sieve to strain out any lumps, which turns it into the smooth concoction we affectionately know as apple butter. But if you have a hand blender, you can just run it through the whole thing, and in about 1 minute it will be perfectly smooth. Yes, you could use a regular blender, but you should probably let it cool down before doing so, and by then I think it would be a little more difficult to get it really smooth. A hand blender works swimmingly.
So there you have it. Perfectly wholesome, beautifully natural, awesomely delicious apple butter. And what should you now do with all of this gorgeous apple butter? Well, you could spread it on a muffin or homemade biscuits, make an apple butter/peanut butter sandwich, swirl it into some cottage cheese or yogurt, stir some into your morning oatmeal, roll some up in a flour tortilla with a little cinnamon sugar, add some to your favorite BBQ sauce, put some on your pancakes, use it as a substitute for fat in cakes and cookies, put some in your bath water... just checking to see if you’re still awake. Here’s the recipe…
Makes about 6 cups
15 or so medium sized tart apples (four or five pounds) - Macintosh are nice (I used Winesaps and Jonogolds)
4 cups apple juice or cider
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups sugar
Wash, core and quarter apples. It is not necessary to peel them. Place the apples in a large kettle or Dutch oven along with the juice or cider. Bring to a boil, then cover the mixture and simmer for about 30 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Run the mixture through a food mill and return the apples back to the Dutch Oven. Stir in the sugar, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and leave uncovered over very low heat and cook for about 8 hours or until the mixture is very thick. Be sure to stir periodically and frequently to prevent burning on the bottom. Run a hand blender through the apple butter to create a smooth texture.
At this point you could can (preserve) it or store in airtight containers in the fridge. It will last several weeks (even months).