4 Dec 2010, Robin ‘Pumpkin, winter, etc’.
Grah. I keep meaning to look for my old apple butter recipe, and keep forgetting. However. You don’t really need a recipe: Take your apples. Core, peel and chop them—and you don’t have to chop them fine, just chop them—put them in a large, heavy, wide-bottomed pan with as little water as you can get away with—or better yet, apple juice—and boil, gently, till they go mushy. At this point use a potato masher on them. I personally find this a lot less effort than all that chopping-small stuff. Depending on the tartness of your apples and how sweet you want your butter you’ll need somewhere around ¼ to ½ c sugar (brown or white: I like brown) per cup of apple pulp, and if you mix it in with a whisk you’ll get the last of the lumps out. Again, depending on how spicy you like your butter, you’ll want anywhere from about ¼ to 1 tsp of cinnamon per cup, and about half that of allspice Then turn the heat down to low and let it cook forever. If you want to stand there and stir it you can have the heat a little higher, and it’ll take a little less time but . . . not enough less. Stirring is one of the most boring occupations on the planet.† You should be in the same house with it, however, your large, heavy, wide-bottomed pot with your future apple butter in it, because you need to stir it occasionally and make sure it’s not sticking. It will eventually congeal into . . . apple butter. I don’t remember how long it takes, but it’s one of these put it together before lunch and it’ll be done by dinner things, and then you’ll have fresh apple butter for breakfast tomorrow. As you’d expect with something that slow-cooks and is full of spices, it improves with a little age.
I never bottled it the way you’re supposed to. A couple of big jars of apple butter in the back of the fridge didn’t last long enough to be a nuisance. And the way I make it—without stirring—if you made it in a big batch it would take FOREVER to cook down to sludge. My way it’s simple enough that doing it again is not a big deal.
One more warning: you lose a lot of pectin—the stuff that stiffens the applesauce it into something you can spread—by peeling and coring. The first time I made it I’d automatically peeled and cored, because that’s what you do before you cook apples, and then I reread the recipe and thought, oh, frell . . . and besides, sieving the muck to get the peels and cores out is again to me way too much like work, like endless stirring. So I did it my way and it still came out butter, and has always come out butter†† every other time I’ve made it my way. I don’t know if I’ve been extremely lucky in my apples, or what. So you might want to follow a proper recipe.