Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Old Fashioned Apple Butter
Okay, I've got something to fess up to: I miss autumn. I miss the leaves changing colors, and that crisp feeling in the air. I miss pulling out a cozy sweater to visit the nearest pumpkin patch and drinking fresh apple cider at Reeger's Farm fall festival. But since winter and snow inevitably must follow, I will stay here in perpetual summer and honor the season the best way I can- with food.
I will make chili and roast chicken, bake pumpkin pies and zucchini bread and slather it with apple butter just like the Amish make at Smicksburg. Of course, no one here sells good old fashioned homemade apple butter, so I had to make it myself. Here's how-
12 1/2 pint jars, lids and rings, sterilized
10# sweet apples (I used NY Honey Crisp)
2 cups water
1-2 Cups brown sugar (depending on the sweetness of your apples)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground clove
Wash and cut apples into one inch chunks. I removed the core, but left the skin on. In a large pot, cook apples with two cups water on medium-high heat until very soft. Pass apples through a Foley food mill into a medium size pot. At this point you could add the sugar and spices and process as apple sauce. For butter, cook apple puree on very low, just barely a simmer, stirring every fifteen minutes, until reduced by half. Mine took about three hours to reach this point. Make sure to partially cover it as you cook, as it tends to splatter quite a bit, but also needs an opening for steam to escape.
As it reaches the appropriate thickness add the sugar and spices. Begin with one cup sugar, adding more to taste. For the last step, to make it more apple buttery, I used a hand-held immersion blender to smooth it out. You could also use a blender. This is an important step so do not skip it. Otherwise, your apple butter will just look like very thick apple sauce. Ladle into sterilized jars and process ten minutes.
Because this is so time consuming, and creates a lot of dishes to wash, I do not recommend making any less than ten pounds at a time. You could even double it, provided you have pots large enough to cook that many apples. And given your family is all going to want a jar, that would probably be a good idea.