Making Apple Butter
In the last post, I shared how we picked an unknown variety of apples from our neighbor’s tree and went on to identify them with the help of Orange Pippin.
Well, the next thing I did was to make an old-fashioned cinnamon-y apple butter!
The house smelled totally heavenly and with braided homemade bread baking [Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, now updated] at the same time as the apples were simmering on the stove, we could hardly wait to taste the first mouth-watering bites! My taste buds were going crazy! I like to apply butter to my steaming hot bread, watch it melt, and to slather on the spicy apple butter one dollop at a time.
My recipe is so simple, but the secret is fresh, tart (baking) apples, not the fresh, sweeter, out-of-hand-eating kind. This is just the time of year the apples are widely available and that your family will really appreciate having this simmering on the stove to create that celebratory mood.
Also, you could probably put it into a crock pot by doubling or tripling the recipe and adding extra liquid to go overnight on low.
Ingredients for Gluten-Free Apple Butter:
- 4-5 lbs. (or a 5 lb. bag will do) tart pie apples, cored and cut into chunks. Leave unpeeled if un-sprayed and you have a stick blender (why go to the extra work and waste the food?). Cut out any bad spots.
- 2/3 c. real maple syrup (or honey). I have cut the sweetener here, so you may add more to suit your taste.
- 2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 1 TBSP lemon juice or cider vinegar (or to taste)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional) These spices really bump up the flavor!
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger (optional)
- 1 and 1/3 cup water or apple juice (I used echinacea tea I had on hand)
Place it all in a big saucepan and cook it down gently and slowly with the lid askew to vent off the extra liquid~ perhaps for 1 hour until the consistency is just the way you like it…but I will get to that in a minute! Check your heat: I simmered mine on ‘3’ and then lowered it to ‘2’ until done; stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
Your kitchen will become the gathering place. There is nothing quite like the rich aroma of apples and spices cooking down on the stove to bring back childhood memories of working alongside Mother in the kitchen!
The apples cook down pretty fast and the skins get tender. Some apples cook down faster than others.
When the humidity in our home goes down as the weather gets cold at night, I like to use my cooking as a way to humidify a little, so I leave the lid off and stir more frequently.
Now you can puree it with your stick-blender. Those skins increase your dietary fiber~ a good thing, and the resulting apple butter is smooth and silky in texture.
No one but you will ever know the skins were left on. Reduce heat and continue cooking only if it is not thick enough. You will know when it is just right!
It is so hard to wait for this as a dessert, so serve it with the meal! Get the hot bread out of the oven, tear off a big chunk…
A plug for the wonderful book that opened up a whole new world of baking crusty breads to us. We couldn’t be more pleased to save so much time and turn out an awesome, truly European-style crusty bread! I highly recommend The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.
…and pass the apple butter, please! Uh-mm…
This will make (2) quart tubs. Use a tub in the next several week (if it lasts that long) and pop one in the freezer for when you do hospitality. Leave 1″ head room when freezing.
Bon appétit, my friend!
“Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings…” ~ Psalm 17: 8
Thanks for reading!