Friday, February 23, 2007

Apple Butter with Carolina B.

This recipe makes roughly 40 ounces of apple butter. So you can make 5 small 8-ounce jars (great as gifts or house warming presents), or a couple large sized jars, it's up to you.
4 pounds of apples, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks (we used a mix of empire, gala, and Fuji apples - but any type of flavorful apple will do)
Roughly 1/2 gallon of apple cider
2 cups of sugar (use roughly 1/2 cup per pound of fruit)
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
Juice of one lemon
Prepare the jars: Heat oven to 225 and place jars (but not lids) on the baking racks. Jars will need to stay in the oven for at least 20 minutes. Wash the lids with hot water and let them dry completely on a clean towel.
Make the apple butter: In a big, heavy pot over medium/med-high heat add the apples and enough apple cider to just cover the apples. Bring to a simmer. A bit of a foam will form, you want to skim that off a couple of times (don't obsess). Cook the apples until they are tender throughout, roughly 20-30 minutes. Take the apples off the heat, let them cool for a couple minutes, and then puree in a blender, in small batches (don't fill the blender over half full with the hot liquid or you will have a mess). The puree should be the consistency of a thin applesauce.
Put the puree back in the big pot over medium heat. Bring puree to a simmer (you need it to hit 220F on a candy thermometer). Then, while stirring, slowly sprinkle in the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and lemon juice. Continue to simmer over medium/med-low heat. It takes quite a while from this point until the apple butter reduces and really thickens up, anywhere from 1 to 2 hours (try to keep it around 220F). Make sure you stir regularly, you don't want it to burn or cook to the bottom of the pot. You are looking for the apple butter to thicken up and darken. Towards the end it gets a bit messy, the simmer becoming more lava-like - it also sounds different, lots of plop and slop noises and lots of spattering coming from the pot. Remove from heat.
Fill your your biggest, deepest pot with water and bring to a rolling boil. The water level will need to cover the jars.
Fill the jars:Using tongs carefully remove each jar from the oven and fill to within 1/4 inch of the top with the apple puree. Wipe off rims with a clean dry paper towel. Place a dry lid on each jar and close tightly. Using tongs place each of the jars in the boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.