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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Apple Butter

I don't know what inspired me to go out and get some canning supplies. Maybe it was all those little jars of preserves I saw the other week at the apple orchard that were selling for upwards of $7 a jar. Maybe it was all the junk and chemicals in every jar of salsa, jam, or jelly in the grocery store. Maybe it was just wanting to do something I've never done without my mother or grandmother being in the kitchen. Whatever it was I decided to pick up some supplies and try my hand at some Apple Butter.

I started with Apple Butter because it is fairly easy to do and there's a nice selection of apples in the grocery stores right now. I chose to use some Fuji apples which I found in three pound bags for about $3. Since the original recipe I was working from called for about three pounds of apples it seemed tailor made for my first solo run at preserving.

This recipe works best in half-pint jars although if you want to use pints you can. I just don't think most people will use up a pint of Apple Butter after opening it before it goes bad though. But maybe you're an Apple Butter fiend and can clean out a jar in a sitting.

I have tweaked the original recipe (which is from Mary Mac's Tea Room in Atlanta) to up the flavor profile a bit. The original is pretty plain and straightforward but I wanted something that had a little more "oomph!" So, I adjusted the seasonings slightly and added two "secret" ingredients to this: a pinch of ginger and a bit of Calvados. Compared with the fairly simple butter we purchased at the orchard, the addition of these two little items gives a whole new life to this Autumn standby!

If you've never canned or preserved food before, don't be afraid. I'd not even thought of this in 20 years or more. I remember watching and helping my mother and grandmother when I was just a kid, but I've never tried it as an adult. After a little reading to refresh my memory most of it came back to me. Hot water preserving really is very simple. Basically you need sterilized jars which can be done either on the "sanitize" cycle of a dishwasher or by boiling the jars and lids for about 10 minutes. Then you just need to keep your jars warm until ready to use - the "plate warmer" or "dry" cycle of the dishwasher is perfect for that chore. Lastly you just need to fill your jars to the prescribed volume, slap on the lids and rings and process in the hot water bath for the required length of time. After processing they just need to cool for about 12-24 hours and then they're ready for the pantry for up to a year. Easy, peasy!

By the way, if you're not in the South or along the coasts, check your city's elevation. I almost forgot to do that because I've never lived anywhere above 1,000 feet. As it turns out Tucson is over 2,200 feet so I had to adjust my processing times up just a bit. For more information and recipes related to canning and preserving check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia.

I'm considering selling some of my apple butter (and maybe a few other preserves). If you're interested leave a comment. A half-pint will run about $5.25+shipping. 

: Apple Butter
: Sweet, spicy and oh, so good! The perfect use for extra Fall apples.

  • 1 cup apple juice (or cider)
  • 3 pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tbsp. Calvados (apple flavored liqueur)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 4 half-pint glass jars with lids and rings

  1.  Please visit this link if you are unfamiliar with canning and preserving!
  2. Place the apple wedges in a medium stockpot with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and continue boiling for 30 minutes or until apples are soft.
  3. Process the apples in batches using a blender or food processor with the apple juice or cider. Pulse just until the apples achieve a nice consistency - like applesauce. You don't want to liquefy the apples or make them too smooth.
  4. Transfer the processed apples to a large sauce pan and add the spices, sugars, Calvados, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for about 45-50 minutes, stirring frequently until the mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon.
  5. While the apple mixture is cooking prepare your half-pint jars for preserving. Sterilize the jars and lids using the sanitize cycle of a dishwasher or wash in hot, soapy water and then boil for 10 minutes in a water bath. Keep the jars warm until the apple butter is ready to avoid breakage.
  6. When apples are ready, transfer to jars leaving about 1/4-inch headspace. Remove any air pockets and adjust volume if necessary to maintain proper headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars. Put on lids and rings and process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes (if below 1,000 feet). Remove top from the canner and allow jars to rest for five minutes. Remove from water and allow jars to cool for 12-24 hours. Apple butter may be eaten immediately if you are not canning.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4 half-pint jars
Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)

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