When I make apple butter, I make it in volume. The teen boy squad loves both apple and pear butter and consumes a lot of it! Here’s my recipe, adapted slightly this year for a cane-sugar sensitive sister.
30 lbs mixed cooking apples
(I used mixed Macintosh, Jonagold, Yellow Delicious and Granny Smith)
6 cups apple cider
1 cup plus ½ cup apple cider vinegar
5 cups agave syrup
5 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
Peel, core and slice the apples. I use a mechanical gadget that works well for all but the biggest or softest apples. Drop the sliced apples into a large bowl partially filled with water and ½ cup apple cider vinegar to prevent browning.
I used three stock pots to simmer the apples. Drain and evenly distribute the apples, the cider, the cup of cider vinegar and the agave syrup. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then simmer until soft, mushy and saucy.
The traditional method of achieving fine textured apple butter is to press through a sieve. I prefer using a hand held immersion blender instead, it’s easiest. You can also run the apples through a blender or food processor until smooth.
A note on spices – aromatic spices only last about a year in the cupboard before the flavor fades noticeably. It’s a good idea to invest in new for this cooking adventure, especially cinnamon. I like my apple butter a bit spicy and the recipe reflects that – you can adjust to taste.
After blending the apples, add spices and continue to simmer, leaving the pots only partially covered. The goal is to cook the apples down to a thick sauce. Keep the heat relatively low and stir every 30 minutes or so. There will be some caramelization of sugars on the bottom; this is good, it adds color and flavor complexity. Scrape it up and stir it in. You just don’t want it to scorch. (If it does scorch, but the flavor hasn’t permeated the apple butter, it may be salvageable. DON’T scrape it or stir it up, carefully pour the apples off into a different pan to continue cooking.)
You will need to simmer the apples for hours – typically, mine takes about 8 hours to reach the consistency I like. You can also reduce the apples in a large crockpot on low, with the lid tilted off-center, overnight.
Apple butter doesn’t freeze especially well and should be canned or refrigerated. I use traditional hot water bath canning.
We had leftover apples, so the youngest and his friend-who-is-a-girl made a couple of apple crisps.
Yum – I love fall!