I’ve been to the orchard a few times for apples already. The first time I grabbed a few Early Delicious towards the end of peach season. The second time I grabbed a big pile of Gala. Next I grabbed a bunch of Jonathans, and a sampler of Mutsu and Ida Red. Most recently, I picked up two big bags of Stayman-Winesap, a bag each of Fuji and Braeburn, and a sampler of Arkansas Black.
Long story short, I’ve got a buttload of apples. That’s what I’m going to be talking about for the next few posts.
I’ve mentioned apple butter several times on this blog. I even had a post about Peach Butter. Last Xmas we gave away half-pint jars of apple butter to friends and family. To date, I’ve never posted a recipe for it. It is time to rectify that.
- Lemon Juice
- Sugar (optional)
- Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger or other seasonings (Optional)
Take apples, core them, and put them into a crock pot or large stock pot. Add the juice of one lemon, sprinkled over top to prevent browning (and to be extra certain that your pH will be low enough). You don’t need to peel the apples, but I do sometimes. If the apples are looking good and the skins don’t look too creepy, you can save yourself some effort and leave the skins on. If you’ve got a fancy-schmance peeler/corer contraption and it’s just as easy to peel the apple as to not peel it, go for it.
For the record, I’ve made apple butter with various combinations of Stayman-Winesap, Jonathan, Mutsu and Ida Red apples. I still haven’t found an apple variety or combination that I prefer the most. I guess I’ll just have to keep experimenting!
Cook the apples over medium-ish or high-ish heat until bubbling. Turn the apples into sauce. You can do this by smashing (for a rustic-looking chunky applesauce), with a blender or with an immersion blender. Reduce heat to low and cook the crap out of it until it’s thick and brown.
Once it’s cooked, you can call it a day and process it into jars. Sometimes my wife really likes the simple taste of unadulterated apple goop. We didn’t add anything at all to the peach butter, for example, and it turned out great. Sometimes, we like to add some seasoning. If you’ve used any sweet or mostly-sweet apples to your mix, you probably don’t need to add sugar. Once it’s cooked down, taste it to see if it’s sweet enough. If not, add some sugar (start small). Maybe consider honey or brown sugar too.
Sometimes we like the flavor of plain apples, sometimes we like to add cinnamon and other spices. Nutmeg and ginger are good additions, in moderation. You’ll have to taste your butter and season it to meet your particular needs.
Once the apple butter is cooked and seasoned, you can put it into jars for long-term preservation. Half-pint jars can be processed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Since we season everything to our particular tastes the resulting apple butter is, surprise, perfect. If it wasn’t perfect, we would have added some more crap to it. That’s how cooking works.
Most recently, we used a combination of Jonathan, Mutsu and Ida Red apples, and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. We peeled the apples because several of them had some skin creepiness going on. The resulting butter is very reminiscent of the kinds of apple butter has a very rich, warm taste.
A full crockpot of raw apple slices yielded 6 and a half pints. Two quarter-pint jars weren’t sealed and went into the fridge for immediate noms. The rest is going onto the shelf so we can eat them all next weak in a mindless frenzy.