Saturday, August 28, 2010
Midnight Apple Butter, A Timeless Procrastination Tool
Art installation in the kitchen? Or Jenn's answer to the Bag-E-Wash?
Nursing school finals are only three days away, and yet I decided to make apple butter tonight. It was the usual problem--on the way home from picking up my CSA, I pocketed so many windfall apples that I had no choice but to make apple butter or let them all rot!
My recipe, fine-tuned over the years, goes like this:
8 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples (use at least three different kinds--tart, sweet, and super-flavorful; cooking apples that melt down work best)
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Optional: finely grated zest of 1 orange
Put everything in a crock pot (if you're using a 12 cup crock pot, you can multiply the recipe by 1.5 if you want!) and turn it on high with the lid off. Cook the apple butter for 3-6 hours, stirring every half hour or so. After an hour or two, use an immersion blender to puree the apples until smooth. Some apples just don't do this and will stay chunky, but do your best. Continue to cook, uncovered, until the apple butter is reduced by at least 1/3, brown, thick, and making tar-pit bubbles. When it looks like it's getting done, bring your canning pot to a boil and sterilize 4 half-pint jars (I put them in the canning pot while it's heating up). Put the lids in a small pot of simmering water for at least 15 minutes. Fill the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Release air bubbles (I do this by banging the jars on the counter), then wipe the jar rims and threads clean before putting on the hot lids and fastening them two-finger tight. Put the jars back into the canning pot, return it to a full boil, and process for ten minutes. Let jars cool upright on a clean dishtowel on the counter overnight. Make sure they have sealed properly (listen for the wonderful popping noises the lids make as they seal, then in the morning, make sure all the lids are concave and don't bounce up and down if you press them in the middle). If any didn't seal right, just put them in the fridge and eat them right away.
I think this apple butter is the best! Not too much sugar, so it's nice and tart with good apple flavor. And not too many spices...just enough to make it taste like fall. Although while it's cooking your whole house will smell like a candle store...