Every other year our apple tree produces fruit. I was so excited this year for our apples to grow!! I watched them almost get destroyed this past spring when there were a couple of huge blizzards.
I waited patiently for them to ripen, checking in on them periodically to assess their progress.
I picked one and ate it. They were sweet and ready to be harvested! I was dreaming of applesauce, apple pie, and apple butter. I set aside my Sunday for the big apple extravaganza!! I went outside Sunday morning to start picking and guess what? EVERY SINGLE APPLE WAS PICKED. There weren't even any on the ground. I still, to this day, have no idea what happened. We are not in an area where our tree is accessible to the general public. It is hidden in a corner of the yard. I was so disappointed! Luckily my sister saved the day. She had a tree behind her house that was loaded with apples. Her neighbor was thrilled to have someone use them! So without further ado, HOME MADE APPLE BUTTER.
Here is what you will need:
I used about 14 cups of peeled and cored apples. I did not weigh them before peeling and slicing them but instead, just filled up my crock pot to the top (I measured how much was in there after the fact just to give you an idea). I started with a shopping bag about 3/4 full but the apples were tiny and organic so the buggies got to them first. I cut away quite a bit. One pound of ordinary sized apples is roughly 3 cups peeled so I guesstimate 4-5 pounds of apples. For my spices I chose cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice. The remaining ingredients I chose are brown sugar, and frozen apple juice. I really wanted to use apple cider but I couldn't find any so I used frozen apple juice instead. What I love about this recipe is that you can adapt it to your own tastes. Maybe you don't want to add sugar at all. Some recipes call for lemon juice (maybe to keep the apples from browning). You can even leave the skins on if you like. I have made batches with the skins and they turned out fine (plus they have the added benefit of all the fiber and vitamins).
STEP 1: Peel and Core your Apples.
This is the tedious part, of course. Get some music, a good podcast, and/or a friend to help you out and it will go fast.
You can really load up your crockpot since the apples cook down quite a bit. If you don't have a crock pot, you can make this in a saucepan. I decided to try the crockpot method so I could be free to do other things while it was cooking. I set mine on high.
STEP 2: Add the Brown Sugar. I added one cup.
STEP 3: Add the Cinnamon. I added one Tablespoon
STEP 4: Add the Nutmeg, Clove and Allspice. I added 1/2 teaspoon of each.
STEP 5: Add 1/4 Cup of Frozen Apple Juice.
STEP 6: Replace the lid and cook on high for 4 hours. After 4 hours take off the lid and cook for another 2-4 hours. I cooked mine for 4 and all the juice boiled off and I got a very thick apple butter. When you take off the lid you are evaporating the juice so just take a look every hour to see how thick you want it. I wish I would have had a little thinner of a consistency. You could probably rehydrate it a little if it gets too thick by adding a little water or apple juice. Once you are satisfied with the consistency, pour it in a blender in small batches and puree until it is a smooth uniform consistency.
Here is how mine looked after 6 and 1/2 hours. You can see that the apples have boiled down to nearly 1/2 the size. There is still a little liquid at the bottom.
Here it is after blending. I like to leave mine a tiny bit chunky.
STEP 7: This step is optional. I like to can my apple butter. Canning makes it last a lot longer so that you can still enjoy the fresh taste of fall in the middle of winter. Also, it is great to give as a holiday gift. If you want to can your apple butter you will need to put it in sterile jars. The easiest way to do this is to run some ball jars in your dishwasher and leave them in the top rack until they are ready for use. Fill them with the apple butter leaving a little space at the top of the jar (Maybe 1/4 inch). Place the lid and ring on the jar. Next, fill up a large pot with a couple of inches of water and bring it to a boil.
This is my set up. Fancy. I just put a little cooling rack on the bottom so the glass isn't resting on the pot. I fill the water 1/2 way up the jar. I boil the jars for about 10-15 minutes. After boiling, I remove the jars and place them on a dish towel to cool. You can tell if you press the top of the jar whether or not it has been vacuum sealed. If you press and it does not pop up, it is sealed shut. Sometimes you need to wait a few minutes after you take it out to check the top. It continues to shrink as it cools.
Once cooled, you can make a cute little top for it. Grab a small scrap of fabric, some scissors, and ribbon.
I have scissors with a decorative edge. These are great because they look pretty and also prevent fraying of the fabric. Trace a circle that is one to two inches larger than the rim of your apple butter (depending how much you want it to hang down over the edge.)
Once your circle is cut out, center it on the top if the jar then screw the ring on top of your fabric.
You can add some ribbon to finish it off. If you want to secure your ribbon, you can dot some hot glue under the ribbon but I just tied mine on.
There you have it! Guess I'll have to wait two more years for the apple pie post!