Apple Butter Recipe + Pre-Thanksgiving Preserves Swap
By Cornelia Hoskin
There’s a spot I retreat to in the hills of New Hampshire where three heavily laden apple trees are completely overlooked by the locals in the fall. I’m not certain of the apple variety, but, other than the occasional black spot and worm hole, the fruit is incredibly crunchy, tart, and flavorful. The trees are flanked by a few smaller crab apple trees and, um, a graveyard. Some people could be creeped out thinking of their apples being fertilized by the dead. I, on the other hand, see it as a splendid way to participate in the inevitable cycle of life.
I managed to pull down about 40 pounds of apples a few weeks back and, upon returning to my humble city apartment, cooked up 15 pints of apple butter. Because, really, when is the last time you had some local, wild-foraged apple butter?
Here is the recipe, cut down to a more manageable 12 lbs of apples:
12 lbs of tart, crisp apples nothing too sweet!
3 cups apple cider vinegar
6 cups water
Approx. 4 cups sugar I use raw sugar.
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground cloves
1½ tsp allspice
Step 1: Wash the apples well and then cut them into quarters — skin, seeds and all — cutting out any black spots, bruises, or worm holes. Place the quarters into a large bowl of lemon water to keep the fruit from browning. Apparently, there is enough natural pectin in the core and seeds of the apples to make this recipe firm up nicely. Makes things simpler, too!
Step 2: Once all the apples are cut, drain them from the lemon water and place them in a large, non-reactive pot. Add vinegar and water, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the apples have softened and resemble a lumpy applesauce (duh). This should take 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat.
Step 3: Working in batches, process the apple mixture through a food mill (this takes patience and elbow grease) until all of the puree has been extracted from the skin, seeds, and membranes.
Step 4: For every cup of apple puree, add approximately ½ cup of sugar until there is enough sweetness to counter the tartness. Add spices and salt and check the flavor again. I tend to prefer more sourness to sweetness.
Step 5: Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture has thickened up a bit — approximately 2 hours. Be careful not to let the mixture burn at the bottom of the pan — keep stirring!
Step 6: Carefully pour the apple butter into hot, sterilized jars and process for shelf-stable preserves. My batch turned out a bit less thick than expected, so pectin may be a good idea if you’re looking for a near-peanut butter consistency. Aside from smearing on toast, this apple butter is also yummy as a condiment for sharp cheddar sandwiches, in crepes, and as a glaze for pork loin.
We’re swapping stuff in a Pre-Thanksgiving Preserves Swap over at homegrown.org! I’m getting a half-pint each of blackberry jam and mint jelly in exchange for a pint of apple butter. Torry says the mint jelly goes great with Indian food. Sounds like a great deal to me!
About the Author
Cornelia Hoskin is the HOMEGROWN Shepherdess at HOMEGROWN.org, a community of Farm Aid. The site is a place where we can learn from each other, share our questions, show off how we dig in the dirt, grow our food, work with our hands, and cook and share our meals.