This weekend I ventured out for my first ever apple-picking adventure! I was accompanied by two of my friends and we spent a couple hours meandering through a local orchard tasting apples on most trees. I felt like three little runaways scavenging through a field, nibbling our way from one end to the other, looking for the greatest taste. The best flavor came from a lone tree on the edge of the orchard. It was surrounded by other apple trees, chock-full of beautiful red apples that had horrible flavor. My friend Sequoia spotted a huge tree, with no family nearby whose lower layers had been nearly picked clean. Luckily Sequoia, always one with the trees, scampered up to the top and tossed apples down to me to complete our fine collection.
After returning home with a bellyful o' apple I frantically began looking up recipes to help deplete the enormous stock. And that's when I found this gem - there's nothing quite so autumny and homey as homemade apple butter.
Although there is no butter in apple butter, it has a unique spreadability coupled with a very appleine flavor. Something thinner than jelly, but with more natural love than a sauce. As an added bonus, apple butter is a very easy way to make your house smell nice all day long.
makes 3 pints (enough to share a couple jars with friends)
12 medium apples (cooking apples are ideal)
2 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup cider vinegar
Begin by doing the bulk of the work- peel, core and cut apples into pieces no larger than a square inch. Place in large pot with 1/2 cup water and heat over medium heat.
As the apples begin to fall apart into applesauce goo, be stirring so nothing burns. Once most of the apples have disintegrated, puree into uniform texture.
Now, stir all ingredients into the same pot.
Cook on medium-low heat 3-5 hours or until the mixture has come to optimal thickness.
After about 2 hours, I stopped and strained the apple goop.
It's important to remember that what we're making is basically just a simple syrup (sugar and water), so the longer you boil it, the thicker it will become and more syrup-like. So you really get to control the consistency here.
Fill jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. As the apple butter is very
thick, jiggle the jars or stir with a chopstick to release any air
Wipe rims and place two part lids on jars. If you have the proper tools, which I do not, you'll want to sanitize the jars to make them last as long as possible. I just carefully wash mason jars and make sure to eat it all quickly!