Monday, November 28, 2011

Recipe: Apple Butter

So, what to do with left over apple pulp and skins from our Hard Cider Homebrew session on the Thanksgiving weekend?

Throw it away?   That seemed like a big waste.
Turn it into compost?  Well, it has to age for about 2 years due to the high acidity - it will kill plants.
Use it to kill plants?  Not a bad idea if I had a fence line I wanted to keep weed free... but no fence lines for me right now.

How about making some apple butter?  Perfect!

Apple butter is not really butter (from milk), but it is a creamy, concentrated apple sauce with spices.  It is delicious on a piece of warm toast or on a hot biscuit.  It was a common sweet treat, side dish, ingredient in baked goods, or condiment in the Colonial United States.  I can see why.  I have only met one person (eh-hmm, Veronica), who does not like apple butter.  However, everyone else usually goes back for seconds and thirds when a jar is opened.

We ended up with a bunch of pulp after juicing close to 200 lbs of fruit.  Well over half of it was from uncored apples, so it had bit of stem and seed in it.  However, thanks to Jake's forethought, we cored a decent amount of apples and quince and saved that pulp for making apple butter.

Here is the basic recipe for apple butter:

  • 4 parts fruit (this can be cored apples, skins, or pulp)
  • 1 part sugar (this can be brown sugar, white table sugar, or honey)
  • Spices to taste (common spices are cinnamon and cloves)

 The heated apple mixture (left)
Pureeing the mixture (center)
The pureed apple mixture (right)

  • Heat the fruit, sugar, and spices over low medium heat until tender - keep stirring to avoid scorching (you can see this being done in the photo at the top of this post)
  • You may need to add some water to help with consistency
  • Transfer to a blender or food processor or food mill and puree it until smooth (like apple sauce)
  • Put back on the heat and simmer until reduced and darkened - it should be thick and almost creamy... buttery!

The spices I used in this recipe
(cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and black pepper)

  • Many spices can be used.  I used cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and black pepper.  Yeah, black pepper.  If used in small amounts in sweet dishes like apple butter and apple-quince pie is basically a natural flavor enhancer.
  • This is a very easy recipe to make, it just takes some time and attention.  
  • A crock pot works great for cooking the pureed fruit.  I put mine in over night on low and then simmered it down on the stove for a few hours more the next morning.

The finished apple butter... dark, glossy, and creamy!  Delicious!

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in the mts. of Va. / W.Va,,, in the 1940's,,In the fall we,,,(granny uncles & aunts !) would gather at my Grandparent's home & spend about a full week, cooking in lge. galvanized "tubs",, everything possible,, from grapes, apple's,peache's, pear's, every berry imagineable. Since I was and have always been a "foodie",, this was a great time for me. However when all was said and done,,,I looked forward to the apple and peach butter,,, most of all !! I suppose it was out of boredom,, having the same apple & peach butter,, year after year,, but my "Granny",, omitted all the spice's normally used in apple butter,, and added Vanilla flavoring,,, oh man!! I love traditonal apple butter,,, but this was a whole new world for me,, I have always loved the smell and taste of vanilla,, and this smelled wonderful,, and the taste was equally amazing! And the same applys to peach butter,, you omit everything in a normal recipe except the fruit and sugar and add vanilla to taste,, you dont want to overpower the fruit with the vanilla, but add enough to give just the smell and slight taste of vanilla,, HEAVENLY!!! :>)