I remember when I was a kid (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and all children wrote on rock tablets and walked five miles to school, uphill both ways), sometimes for a few days during the Summer, we would go visit my mothers family in Alabama. I loved going to see mommer and popper. It was a totally different world in Alabama than it was on the south side of Chicago. I had cousins to play with, aunts who seemed so much more lighthearted than my mother, though I know now that that was just the viewpoint of a child, and a grandfather who seemed to adore me (that was Popper).
Back then, once breakfast was over, the leftover food was simply covered with a tablecloth to await the next meal. Two of the things that were always on that table were what they called hoecakes (simply a large skillet made biscuit that everyone tore pieces off of) and apple butter. It was just store bought apple butter, but it was something Popper loved, so it was always there. It wasn’t something our mom bought often, and I loved it myself, so I would pig out on it. I recall one time finishing off the last of the hoecake and apple butter and popper laughing his butt off about it, though the aunts were horrified because you just didn’t eat up all of Poppers hoecakes and apple butter.
When I grew up and started canning, one of the first things I made was homemade apple butter. That was one of my first experiences with how much better home canned goods are than then their store bought counterparts. Over the years, I have tweaked the recipe I originally found into the one I use today. It is sweet but not cloying like some I’ve had and has a nice kick of spice to it, but not enough to overwhelm the fresh apple flavor. I have been known to stand in front of the jar in the fridge with a spoon. What? Don’t judge.
If you’re new to canning, don’t stress it. If you can boil water and put a lid on a jar and just be smart and clean, you’ll have no problem. The hardest part of this apple butter is cutting the apples and if you use an apple corer/slicer, it goes quickly This apple butter is totally worth it. Sweet, thick, spicy, it’s delicious spread on a warm biscuit, in a PB&J sandwich, used in baking, or just from a spoon as you stand in front of the fridge 😀 This is a wonderful way to use some of Autumns best apples.
You know the drill… 🙂
Spiced Apple Butter
- 8 lbs fresh apples, sliced and cored (no need to peel)
- 3 cups apple cider
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar (use light or dark; you choice. I prefer dark)
- 1 rounded tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- Pour the cider and cider vinegar into a large pot. Over the years, I’ve found that a tall, narrow pot works better than a short wide one. You get less splatter on the stove and as apple butter thickens, it DOES splatter.
- Dump your apple slices into the cider/vinegar mix. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes, until completely soft and limp. Give it a stir a couple of times to make sure the apples on top get down in there. A little while in, the apples will start releasing a lot of juice and all of the slices will soften up.
- At this point, I let them sit for about an hour to cool down. You can do this, or if you’re brave (translate; foolhardy 😛 ), you don’t need to. Either way, next step is just pureeing the apples. I scoop them up in my 4 cup measuring cup, blend them on puree in my blender, transfer each batch to a large bowl until I get them all done, then just transfer them back to the pot.
- Once back in the pot, add in the two types of sugar and all of the spices. Stir well to break up the brown sugar.
- Cook the apple butter on low heat, stirring frequently, until it is thickened. You want to be able to take a spoonful of it, put it on a chilled plate and not have it get surrounded by a puddle of liquid. It’s ok if there is some, but you want thickened butter with just a bit of liquid around it. This is going to take a few hours. You don’t want to raise your heat to try and make it go faster, because once it starts to thicken, it will burn to the bottom of the pot pretty easily. Another way to check doneness is if you spoon up a spoonful and it doesn’t leak off of the spoon, but stay mounded.
- When it’s ready to go, ladle it carefully into sterilized (I get 6 to 7 pints) pint jars, to a quarter inch of the top. Clean the rims with a clean, hot damp cloth and place the lids and rims on the jars, finger tight. Don’t tighten the bands or they could cause the jars to break when boiling.
- Boil in a boiling water canning bath for 10 minutes. Carefully take out of the pot and set on a clean towel to cool. You’ll hear the pop of the lids as each one vacuum seals. When completely cool (always give about 24 hours), label the jars and transfer to a cool place for storage.
- The following if a canning tutorial if you’re new to canning. I promise; canning is easy. Just stay away from the sites that say it’s ok to just invert your jars once you add the hot contents or any other practices that could cause safety issues. Your health and that of your family isn’t worth the risk. canning tutorial Now go make some biscuits for this!
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