Apple Butter is a thick, spreadable, concentrated form of applesauce that has been enjoyed by people since Colonial times. Traditionally, large quantities of Apple Butter were cooked in copper kettles over an outdoor fire. The Apple Butter had to constantly be stirred and turned with a wooden paddle to prevent it from scorching.
Fast forward to my home on September 30th, 2012. I don’t have a copper kettle, a wooden paddle, or time to stir hot fruit butter all day! Still, my children enjoy homemade Apple Butter on peanut butter sandwiches, and it really is the perfect Christmas gift for my father-in-law.
APPLE BUTTER from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
- 6 lbs of apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
- 2 cups of sweet apple cider
- 3 cups of sugar, or 1 cup of honey
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1. Wash, peel and slice apples. One of these handy devices accelerates the task!
2. Combine the apples and apple cider in a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently until the apples are soft. I read somewhere that the fresher the cider, the better. The freshest cider in Northern Michigan comes from Rennie Orchards, of course!
3. Working in small batches, transfer the apple mixture to a food mill. Measure 12 cups of apple puree and pour it into a saucepan (this is where I cheated – I used a food mill to remove bits of skin and then put my apple puree through a food processor and pureed until it was smooth and creamy, but not liquified).
4. Combine the apple puree with the spices and sugars. I used local Michigan honey to achieve a sweet, but not as sweet as sugar, flavor. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir frequently. Reduce heat, stir often, and boil gently until the mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon or plate (this will take hours).
NOTE: If you have little/no experience canning and are not familiar with these terms, I recommend purchasing the book named above or asking someone who has canned before to help you. Sterilized equipment and proper canning practices are necessary for safe food. These directions are not meant as a canning tutorial – I am simply sharing a recipe and my experience with it.
6. Spoon the hot Apple Butter into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles, adjust headspace, wipe the rims, apply lids and screw down bands until fingertip-tight. Process jars for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid, but leave the jars inside. After 5 minutes, remove jars, cool, label, and store.
7. Enjoy and give away!