We're off bright and early this morning up to the Hudson River Valley in New York for our second round of apple picking this season. Pumpkin picking and shopping in the quaint town of Warwick is also on the agenda. I can't think of a more perfect way to spend a Saturday.
I spent last Sunday night using the apples we picked on our first excursion to make apple butter. We didn't go crazy picking massive quantities because we knew we were doing this Upstate New York trip. The amount of apples I brought home lent itself perfectly for making a small batch of butter. My go to resource for home preserving is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It's like an encyclopedia of canning, only better because it has over 400 recipes in it. I'm still a novice at canning and preserving but the recipe for making homemade apple butter. seemed
simple foolproof enough for this beginner.
The apples cooked on the stove top, made their way into the food mill and then off to thicken up in a saucepan for an hour or two. All the while filling our home with the most glorious scent. The recipe says it should turn out eight 8-ounce jars but I ended up with the eight 8-ounce as well as 2 pint jars.
I'm not going to lie, as I checked periodically for thickening there was some taste testing. Then some more. And then some more. And even more on top of that. This stuff is sooo good! Like the best apple pie filling you ever tasted. Imagine a gorgeous roast pork just slathered in apple butter? It's 6 am and I'm drooling at the thought of it.
Speaking of apple pie filling, that's what will be happening after today's haul. Some applesauce too. Suddenly January and February don't seem so cold and dreary anymore.
Traditional Apple Butter
6 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and quartered (I actually chopped them so they would soften faster)
3 cups of water
6 cups of granulated sugar (Don't panic - you're making 8-10 jars of the stuff, remember?)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine apples and water. Bring to a boil over medium - high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft. About 30 minutes.
Working in batches, transfer apple mixture to a food mill or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree just until a uniform texture is achieved. Do not liquefy. Measure 12 cups of apple puree. (I did not measure it out)
In a clean, large stainless steel saucepan, combine apple puree, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and holds it's shape on a spoon. (You can also chill a small plate and drop a spoonful of puree onto it. If it creates a watery rim around it then it is not done.)
Meanwhile, prepare your canner, jars and lids.
Once thickened completely, ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4" of headspace. You can remove air bubbles and adjust the headspace if necessary. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down only until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes then remove jars, cool and store.
*remember, it takes 24 hours for jars to seal completely. leave them alone!
*any jars that do not create an airtight seal must be refrigerated and used right away