Making Apple Butter is not rocket science. You peel, core, seed apples and cook them with spices until the apples are reduced down to a thick butter type spread. That’s all there is to it. The following recipe is our version with about 1/4 of the sugar that most recipes call for. We love this apple butter because it is a little sweet and the apple flavor is huge. Don’t worry about blending the apple butter at the end of the cooking. The apples will naturally break down to a nearly smooth consistency. This is a hearty home-made apple butter.
20 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and diced
4 cups water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground gloves
1.5 teaspoons allspice
Juice of three lemons (or 9 tablespoons lemon juice)
****Adjust the seasonings to your taste. I’ve got an idea of curried apple butter for our next try. 🙂 ****
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot on low heat, covered with lid. (Some folks like to cook in a crock pot but I don’t have a crock pot this big. You might wish to consider placing in stock pot and reduce to about 1/2 and then placing in a crock pot and cooking overnight: this helps you avoid a lot of stirring.)
Every 30 minutes or so stir to keep from sticking.
As time goes on and the mixture reduces you will want to stir more frequently; by the end stirring every 4-7 minutes is a good idea. This takes HOURS to reduce down to thick apple butter.
If you wish to second guess yourself and the recipe and add more water, go ahead. It won’t hurt anything but will increase your cooking time a lot. David added two extra cups of water and added about 4-6 hours to the cooking time. In the summer when it is already hot stirring hot apple butter over the stove takes away some of the magic of making your own apple butter.
When you think you are almost there put a small plate in the freezer to chill. Continue to cook and stir. When the plate is very cold, put a tablespoon or so of the apple butter on the plate. If it stays in a mound and then with a knife spreads without running you are ready to take the apple butter off the stove.
Next you will want to put in jars or plastic containers. Using canning jars and lids you will want to follow the basic steps of canning. I recommend: http://www.freshpreserving.com/sites/default/files/IntroToCanning.pdf
If you use plastic containers you will want to either freeze most of the butter or plan to eat it quickly. The vinegar provides a little preservative but not enough to keep it from going bad.
Yield: About 10 pints of apple butter (20 jars of half-pint size)