Apples are one of those things that you associate with pie, and wrapped in caramel, but other than that they are not very exciting. That is, unless you experience the heaven that is Apple Butter.
I remember my grandmother stirring a roasting pan of apple butter when I was a child. It took forever in child-time for it to be finished, but she served it on homemade bread, with her special pretend coffee. I can still remember sitting with her and eating warm bread with apple butter, and watching the birds come to the feeder out the window. High Tea for country girls.
Proper apple butter is thick like jam. It should not be confused with applesauce, the likes of which holds none of the depth of flavor that rich, slow cooked apple butter offers. The recipe starts out almost like applesauce with only a few differences.
Apple Butter Recipe
- I cook plain, unsweetened applesauce overnight in a slow cooker with the top ajar to release moisture.
- In the morning, a full Crockpot has reduced by a third and the apples have darkened and thickened considerably.
- Add sweetener to taste. Honey, sugar, maple syrup all taste great. I like sugar, but just a little.
- Add the seasonings that you prefer, using a light hand. Nutmeg and cinnamon are natural favorites.
- Once finished, any flavors are concentrated and what seems like the right amount for regular apple sauce will be far too strong for reduced apple butter.
- Continue to cook the now seasoned apple butter, until a dollop of butter on a saucer contains no ring of juice around it. Fill your containers and freeze (I often do this with ½ pint jars) or can it easily, using the hot water bath method at 10 minutes for pints, 15 minutes for quarts.