Apple Picking and Apple Butter
During the month of September, I went apple picking with a friend and my daughter-in-law. With the overabundance of apples that we picked, I decided to try making my own apple butter. I looked on line and reviewed about a dozen different recipes. I tend to like “Taste of Home,” “Taste of Southern” and “Southern Living” recipes. This is a combination of the recipes found online (primarily from the “Taste of Southern”).
6 cups water
2 cups apple cider vinegar
10 lbs. apples
2 cups brown sugar
6 cups of white granulated sugar (the amount of sugar is dependent upon the volume of apple mixture, which is explained in the directions).
(The amount of sugar is also dependent upon the sweetness of the apples used. I used approximately 5 pounds of McIntosh apples which tend to be tart. The amount of sugar was just right for this batch, however, I would advise not adding all of the sugar at one time and tasting before adding all of the sugar.)
Zest plus juice of 2 lemons
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons ground cloves
(If you are sensitive to spicy foods, I would suggest adding the ground cloves judiciously.)
2 teaspoons ground allspice
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1-2 teaspoons salt
Wash apples in warm soapy water. Peel, core, and slice 10 lbs. of apples (approximately 8 slices per apple, depending on size).
• Bring 6 cups of water and 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to a boil (preferably in an enameled pot).
• Add all of the apples to the boiling solution. Reduce heat to a medium low and cook (covered) until apples become soft.
Cooking time will vary depending on the type of apples used. Stir frequently while apples are cooking. After apples have softened, mash with a potato masher or mix with an emersion blender. (If you prefer a smoother mixture the apple puree can be pushed through a sieve.)
• Measure the apple puree. This can easily be done by measuring the diameter of the pot and the height of the puree inside then use a volume formula, which can be found using your favorite search engine. The formula website that I used allowed me to select the type of final measurement that I wanted.
• Add ½ cup of sugar for each cup of puree.
• Add vanilla, lemon zest and lemon.
• Add spices, reserving part of the ground cloves. STIR WELL
• Taste and then add 1 teaspoon salt. Taste again to make sure that the mixture has enough salt.
• Add additional cloves according to your personal preference. (It does mellow after the additional cooking, so I would suggest sampling throughout the process.
Apple butter is very forgiving. If additional apples are needed, they can be cooked mashed and added throughout the processing, also if the mixture becomes too thick you can add juice, applesauce, or water to thin.
• Continue to simmer mixture for 6-7 hours, or until the butter has thickened. STIR FREQUENTLY This is now a sugary mixture and can easily scorch. I like to use a plastic, or rubber spatula, or a wooden paddle.
• Test mixture by placing a teaspoonful on a cold plate (from the freezer) and run a finger through the middle of the butter. When it doesn’t run back together the mixture is ready for canning.
• Sterilize jars, lids, rings, and all tools which will come in contact with the mixture.
• Place mixture into jars (1/4 inch headspace) and remove any air bubbles. I usually tap the bottom of each container on a counter top first. I then look for remaining air bubbles. A sterile knife blade can be inserted to remove bubbles if any more are found.
• Clean the rim of each jar then carefully place sterilized tops and gently screw rings over tops, just until they are fully secure. Do not over-tighten.
• Place jars on a rack in processing pot covering jars with boiling water (approximately 1 inch above the tops of the jars).
• I live 300 feet above sea level, so I only needed to process the jars for 10 minutes. If you live at a higher altitude processing time will increase. Check processing times with your local extension office.
• Using a jar lifter, remove jars from water bath and place on a dry towel. Allow the jars to seal undisturbed until they have cooled. The lids will often make a popping noise when they seal.
• Check lids on all jars by pressing the middles. If the lid has properly sealed, the center of the lid will not push in when pressed. Jars which do not seal need to be refrigerated immediately. Sealed jars may be stored at room temperature.