I had never even heard of apple butter before this, but as soon as I read the name I was hooked. APPLE BUTTER… Yum! It sounded rich, tangy, sweet and right up my alley. It’s all that and more with a nice hit of comforting spices, similar to those in apple pie. I discovered this recipe while searching for something original to make with apples, given they abound in market stalls right now. As a bonus, it includes simple instructions for canning, which allowed me to finally try my hand at the process.
Because I know you’re wondering by now (I sure was…), apple butter can be used in a variety of sweet and savory preparations. You can spread it on buttered toast, biscuits or muffins, add a spoonful in oatmeal, yogurt or on top of ice cream, and even use it for roasting pork or veggies. So far, I love it straight out of the jar!
I ordered adorable mason jar labels from Mudandtwig on Etsy. I figure if I’m going to put so much effort into making something from scratch, I want the packaging to match. I can’t wait to get them!
Mason jars and lids aren’t so easy to find… After going to three different places, I finally found them at a Rona hardware store and thought I would share.
In case you’re a newbie at canning like me, Bernardin‘s website provides some pretty good info on the process.
Adapted from 101 cookbooks
Yields about 6 cups
3.5 lbs of Macintosh apples, peeled, cored and cut into pieces (any cooking apples will do)
1.5 litres of apple cider (can be replaced with apple juice)
1.5 cups of sugar
1.5 teaspoons ground spice mix for baking (cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg)
¼ teaspoon additional ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
Mason jars and lids (12 x 125 ml or 6 x 250 ml jars)
Candy thermometer (optional)
Spatter guard (optional)
If you want to keep things simple, you can forego canning and store the apple butter in the fridge. I think it would keep for about two weeks.
Preheat oven to 225 °F. Place jars (but not lids) on a baking sheet and heat for at least 10 minutes to sterilize. Wash lids in soapy water, rinse and dry thoroughly with clean dish towel. Leave jars to cool in the oven while you make the apple butter.
In a big pot with a thick bottom, bring apples and cider to a simmer. Skim off the foam from the top – there will be a lot! Simmer for 20 or 30 minutes, until apples are soft. Remove from heat and cool about 10 minutes.
Puree the mix using a blender. Do this in batches, never filling the blender more than half way. Also place a cloth over the lid to protect your hands and arms from accidental splashes. Press down firmly on the lid while blending.
Using caution (it’s HOT), return the pureed apples to the pot and attach the candy thermometer to the side. Bring to a simmer/boil while stirring frequently. I found 210 °F to be just the right temperature to get bubbles going without boiling over. Keep a close watch on the pot as you adjust the temperature. You may also need to skim off the foam again – I sure did.
Once the mix is simmering, add the sugar, spices and lemon juice. Continue simmering for about 2 hours (yep, it’s long…), stirring very frequently to avoid sticking or burning. During the last half hour, the sauce will thicken a lot and the simmering will become more lava-like. I strongly recommend using a spatter guard if you have one. At the end, you should have a thick dark brown sauce that sets when you leave a small quantity to cool in a bowl. Remove from heat when ready.
In another big pot, put enough water to completely cover the mason jars and bring to a rapid boil. Fill the mason jars with apple butter, leaving some space at the top. Wipe rims with paper towels. Tightly screw on the dry lids. Using tongs, gently place a few jars in the pot of boiling water and boil for at least 10 minutes. Repeat in batches until all jars are done.
Voilà! You now have pretty little jars of goodness to give away as gifts or keep all to yourself.