Fiberlog

Apple Butter

Posted in food, toddler, Uncategorized by tchemgrrl on October 12, 2012

A few weekends ago, we stopped at the Cornell orchard store after deciding that the weather was too poor to apple picking but *perfect* for apple cooking. So we skipped the picking entirely, picked up three big bags of early apples, and spent the weekend surrounded by the smell of cinnamon, making double batches of apple muffins and cake and apple butter (apparently I’m not the only local thinking of apple butter right now!)

Everyone pitched in:

Don't ask me.

(Putting apples in a cat bed is an Absolutely Necessary step in cooking them, right?)

I got one of those old fashioned apple peelers last year for just this purpose, and prepping apples has never been so easy and fun. Even the toddler peeled a few, when he wasn’t doing his darnedest to eat the apples faster than I could cut them.

The muffins were a recipe from a Moosewood cookbook we have, the apple cake was the standard Better Homes and Gardens recipe (actually it was the “apple bread” recipe, but I sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on top and come on. It’s cake. It’s not fooling anyone.) I made the apple butter in my usual slapdash way–calling it a recipe seems silly, but here’s my general technique.

Peel and core a truckload of apples, about half again what would fit into your crock pot. Two of those paper sacks they sell in the grocery store or farmer’s markets this time of year should be enough with extras. (We bought three big bags and had about half a bag left over after the weekend was through.) My peeler slices the apples into these amazing spirals, but before I had the fancy peeler, I’d quarter the apples. Doesn’t need to be too precise, as they’re all getting cooked to a fare-thee-well.

Into your crock pot, put as many apples as will fit, about a cup of water, cider, orange juice, or watered down lemon juice, a thumb-sized knob of ginger, and maybe a teaspoon of cinnamon. (I usually add more cinnamon or other spices to taste later on when I have a better sense of how a particular batch tastes, so for now it’s just there to make the house smell amazing.) Put the extra apples in the fridge. Turn the crock pot on to low, if you have that option, and go do something else for a few hours. Stir it once in a while if you’re nearby to help smoosh the cooking apple pieces. After a few hours, you’ll have applesauce that takes up about 3/4 of the pot. (If you wanted applesauce you could stop here. I have pulled some out and made potato pancakes some years.) When there’s space, add some of those extra chopped apples until it’s full again.

Leave it overnight. If you wake up at some point in the night, stop downstairs to peek.

In the morning, add the rest of the apples. Let everything cook, stirring every so often, until it’s got a smooth dark unwatery look.

Taste. Add citrus or sweetener or spice as needed. This time around I used a little nutmeg and about a quarter cup of local maple syrup, and it had over-evaporated so I added a little water.

Can or freeze or eat in one sitting. Wait, not that last one; I’m not sure I want to be responsible for someone eating 30 apples in a go.

Canning

We ended up with about 12 jars. Mostly 8 ounce, a couple of 4’s. Two of them will be “extra spicy” variants, I put all the ginger chunks into them, and I’m really curious how they’ll come out. As always happens while canning, I burned the ever-loving craparoonie out of my hand, but I’m pleased with how much we got this year. In previous years, the number of apples used has largely depended on how many apples I could chop and peel before my hands got tired, and the new peeler got rid of that problem.

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