I have a funny story from last week. Well, maybe not funny haha, but funny in it’s own little way…
We were to be witnesses for some friend’s of ours as they signed the papers for buying a new house. There were no Realtors involved, so we would be the only one’s there besides the sellers and our friends. Also, we had to look after their little girl and our little boy who ran around the property for over an hour as the two parties bartered inside.
As we were wandering around the property though, we noticed a big apple tree bending under the weight of it’s unpicked fruit. Being the Karmic observer that I am, I told my husband not to touch. Well, we all know how that went…soon enough the kids were standing under the tree too, one saying “snack! snack!” the other (ours) grunting and pointing up.
My husband, apparently, was familiar with this type of apple, as he had a neighbour as a child who had a tree in their yard. I’m guessing little Mr. Guilty probably stole half of their fruit too. So, we picked a few fruits and then wandered around some more waiting and waiting and waiting for them to finish. Finally, when all the signing of documents was finished, the kindly Scottish couple who owned the house told us to pick all that we could reach. They didn’t like those apples anyway. And the race was on! We grabbed as many bags from our car as possible and picked every fruit from every low and medium hanging branch on that poor tree.
When we got home I realized something. We now had 20 lbs. of cooking apples and they were ready to be eaten now. What to do….there’s only so much apple pie/crumble/bread/cake/muffins, etc a person can consume. So I decided to push myself past any comfort zone I have ever known……Preserves. My mother used to can things when I was a child, but I never helped (much) and I don’t have a giant pressure cooker like she did.
I have never attempted to make anything that would store for more years than I’ve been alive, but what better time to try. I just hate to waste food. I really didn’t want to make applesauce though, blech…my son is too old for purées anyway and I’m just not a fan.
After scouring the internet for recipes for a really good apple butter and methods of preserving it, I came up empty handed. Nothing really struck my fancy. Every recipe called for enormous amounts of sugar or the use of apple juice or applesauce, none of which I had or cared to purchase for this recipe. I just wanted to reduce apples into delicious, smooth, rich, apple butter! So I had to come up with my own recipe, and here I will share it with you because, wow, it’s amazing (if I do say so myself). If you like a slightly tart, spice filled, aromatic, jam like spread for your morning toast, than this is it!
Not Yo Mama’s Apple Butter
15 apples ( I used a tart cooking apple, like this)
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1. Peel, core and cube apples. Place in larg,e heavy bottomed saucepan. Add all remaining ingredients to apples.
2. Set to medium high (around 8 on a regular stove) and get it boiling. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook down for pretty much the whole day. I think I cooked mine for about 10 hours. You will know when you have the right consistency. It should be as thick as still hot porridge or oatmeal and stick to the spoon when lifted out of the pot.
3. Wash all your jars with hot, soapy water first. In another large pot, add jars and lids you will be using to store your apple butter (I used 4 large jars). Cover in water and bring to a boil, boil for 10 minutes to sterilize.
4. When your apple butter is finished, keep it at a low boil (it needs to be hot to put in the jars).
5. Remove your jars from the water one at a time and empty the water out of the jars (but leave the water in the pot, add more if needed and keep boiling) your jars should be hot enough to evaporate most of the remaining water inside them. Fill each jar to almost the top (about 1/4″ away from rim). Wipe any remaining apple butter away from the rim and screw lid on tight. Do this for all your jars.
6. Now put your jars back into the pot with at least an inch or so of water covering them and boil for another 5 minutes (more if you are above sea level).
7. Remove from water and set to cool overnight without jostling too much. In the morning check your seals. If they are depressed, congrats, you’ve just canned something! Yay! If they pop up and down, you have failed. I’m guessing you could try to do the whole process again, but I wouldn’t. Just take it as a lesson learned.
Serve with some delicious homemade English Muffins (recipe coming soon!)
We’ve been keeping an open jar of this stuff in the fridge now for the past week. It’s a big hit with my son and me too. Tart, full of spicy deliciousness and thick to boot. If you have any tips or tricks for me, feel free to leave a comment, I love feedback!