Mmmm apple butter. Sweet, spicy and fruity spread over a slice of homemade bread, does it get much better than that?
One thing I wanted to be sure to do with all the apples we picked this year was to make apple butter. I've only made it a few times, and it has been awhile. So, I decided to check out a few recipes.
What I found was about as many techniques and ingredient combinations as there are people who make apple butter. In all cases apple butter is apples cooked for a long time with sugar and spice added. Besides that, it is very much a what works for you and spice to taste kind of preserve.
It can be cooked on the stove, in the oven or in the crock pot. A wide variety of fall type spices can be used, and some recipes even call for cinnamon red hot candy. A common theme regarding spices is to use extracts and oils instead of ground spices. One recipe used a spice bag filled with various spice placed in with the apples while they cooked.
So basically, cook the apples a lot, and add sugar and spice to taste. If you choose to use extracts add a little at a time. They can be very powerful. Below is rough estimate of how I made it. (Yield approx. 6 pints)
Crock pot of peeled, cored and sliced apples 1 C water 4 C sugar 3 drops clove oil 1 TB cinnamon extract.
Put water and apples in the crock pot. Cook on high until apples start to get soft or it comes to a boil, then turn to low. Stir occasionally. After the apples are soft, add sugar one cup at a time, cooking about an hour between. Taste before adding more sugar.
The apples have cooked long enough when a wooden spoon stands up in the crock pot of cooked apples. Add spices to taste. Fill hot jars with hot apple butter and seal. Jars can be sealed, as recommended by the experts, by processing for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. I tried something new with this batch, the inversion method.
To seal jars with the inversion method turn the filled jars upside down for 15 minutes. Then turn right side up and allow to cool. This is the first time I've used this method and all the jars sealed. I'm sold. I believe this method can be used for any jam or jelly type recipe. I will be using it again.
(Please note that the boiling water method is the recommendation of the canning experts at the USDA.)