making honey apple butter
“So what is apple butter anyway,” you ask suspiciously, because frankly that sounds pretty weird.
It’s not actually all that weird. It’s really a kind of apple jam. It’s a baked reduction and you can flavour it in a bunch of different ways and I’m getting better at it and it’s getting better as I do. I believe it’s called ‘butter’ because it’s lovely and smooth with maybe just a hint of apple graininess in the texture, not because there’s any actual butter involved. It preserves FOREVER–the stuff stays good, and stays good some more, and stays good after that–and although it’s *time* consuming, it’s also very easy to make. Most of the time is spent prepping the apples to cook down; everything else is really just putting it in the oven and remembering to stir it a few times while it does its thing.
We finally broke out the nifty apple corer/slicer/peeler that Ted’s mom sent us and we put it to work on a bag of freshly collected apples. It worked BRILLIANTLY, reducing the time it takes to prepare enough apples for apple butter from over an hour down to about half an hour, and that included figuring out the ideal settings for it. If you have more than a few dozen apples to deal with, Iiiii would get one of these, ’cause wow.
The process for all apple butters is as follows; basically the only difference is how you decide to flavour it when you reach the “put sweetener in” stage.
Whrr! All done super fast. That was awesome. Into the pot!
I didn’t take any picture of pureeing the cooked down apples, but basically: put 1.5 cups of apple juice in with the apples, turn the heat on, stir a couple times as it boils to mush, then puree. I used my food mill this time, which is…honestly, about equal in pain-in-the-assery as putting hot apple glop into a blender. And then you’ve got applesauce to pour into a deepish flatish enamal cooking dish.
Put in a slow oven (around 325F) and cook for about an hour, stirring once or twice, until reduced by half:
Add honey, white sugar, and a teaspoon of salt. I used about a cup of honey this time, because that’s what I had available, and about 3 cups of sugar. (Our apples are VERY sour. YMMV; taste after putting the honey in & see what you think.) Adding the sugar & honey will refill the pot to about the previous full mark.
Return to the oven, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until reduced by half again, probably around 90 minutes.
It turns an amazing shade as the sugar caramelizes. My favourite thing about making apple butter is the different colors they all turn, depending on what you’ve put in it. The honey is super red and lovely.
If you wish, stir in a teaspoon of cinnamon after you remove it from the oven.
Jar as you would anything else.
Eat leftovers straight from the spoon.
Miz Kit’s Honey Apple Butter
4lbs prepared (peeled, cored, sliced) tart apples
1.5 c apple juice/sweet cider
8 oz honey
3 c white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
Put apples and apple juice into a large pot, cover, and boil until the apples are soft (about 30 minutes), stirring occasionally. Puree the mix in a blender/food processor/whatever until smooth. Turn into a deep, flat enamal-lined pan & put into a pre-heated oven at 325°F (150°C, 130°C fan assisted) and roast, stirring very occasionally, for an hour or until the puree has reduced by half.
Remove from oven. Stir in honey, sugar and salt. Return to oven for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring slightly more frequently. Add cinnamon when it comes out of the oven. Jar as you normally would, or refrigerate and be prepared to eat a great deal of apple butter over the coming weeks. Makes around 48oz/6 8oz jars.
Kitsnacks: Cocoa Brownies
This is our family’s go-to brownie recipe:
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temp or softer
1 tsp vanilla
Whisk the dry ingredients together. Add butter, eggs and vanilla and mix. Scrape into a 9×9″ buttered pan. Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes, until barely done (a fork inserted in the centre should come out slightly gooey but not *wet*). Allow to cool. Frost as desired. (I usually use chocolate buttercream frosting.) Eat! Makes 16 brownies.
(This recipe scales well and can be used to make up to a quadruple batch successfully. I’ve never tried anything larger. We often make double batches, though. :))
Kitsnacks: Pumpkin Muffins
I made a batch of absolutely gorgeous pumpkin muffins this morning. Light, fluffy, tender, just the right amount of sweetness.
The dog ate half of them.
Baloo’s Favourite Pumpkin Muffins:
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup melted butter
2/3 cup water
2 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Whisk wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk dry ingredients together in another bowl. Whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients until barely mixed. Scoop into buttered, floured muffin tins with a large spoon, not quite filling the tins to the rim. Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on top if you think of it. Bake at 375°F/180°C for 18-22 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Makes about 30 muffins. Would also make a very nice loaf, I expect, but I didn’t do that.
Kitsnacks: Apple Pecan Cookies
About 45 minutes ago I said I thought I was going to go invent some apple pecan cookies, and did. It’s possible I should invent baking recipes more often. This is my third or so original recipe and so far I’m three for three…
Kit’s Apple Pecan Cookies
1/2 c soft butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/3 c flour
1 c chopped toasted pecans
1 c peeled, diced apple
Cream butter and sugar; add egg & vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Stir in pecans & apples. Bake 12 minutes at 350° F. Makes approximately 24 cookies.
Eat. Try to leave some for the other people in the house.
I used 1.5c flour and am out of vanilla; the cookies I’ve made are sliiiiiightly more crumbly than I would like, so I think the addition of the vanilla and the slight reduction of flour are probably key to making them ideal.
These aren’t super sweet cookies, which is what I was going for, but I immediately considered the possibility they needed a powdered sugar glaze/drizzle. Alternately, I might add a quarter cup of white sugar next time, to see if I can get a slightly chewier rather than cakier texture. But they’re pretty darn good. :)
blackberries, crumbled and plucked
I was faffing around on Saturday trying to convince myself to get my act together enough to Make The Apple Pie, and mumbled, “Or maybe I could just make a blackberry apple crumble, that’d be easier,” in the vicinity of our guest, who said, “I didn’t know that was an option!!!”, thus indicating I should do that. :)
I poked around the internet and couldn’t find a recipe I really liked, so I kind of invented one. It went like this:
Kit’s Blackberry-Apple Crumble
1 oz butter
1 oz sugar
4-5 green apples, peeled, cored & sliced into 36ths
3.5 c blackberries
a smallish handful of flour
Caramelize the butter & sugar, pour the sliced apples in, stir for a couple minutes, pour the blackberries in, stir, pour the whole thing into a 9x11ish pan and sprinkle the flour over the top.
1 c flour
3/4 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 oz butter
Whisk/stir/whatever first 4 ingredients together. Cut in butter until it’s pea-sized or so. Spread on top of the crumble. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until the top is golden-brown & the fruit tender. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Eat with ice cream.
I didn’t have a 9×11 pan, only a 9×13 and a 9×9, the latter of which turned the crumble topping to butter (tasty butter, but not crispy butter) LAST time I made it, so I used the bigger one and the filling was a bit thin, so neither was really suitable. Next time I’ll make more filling, maybe. But it was really good. And also we ate it and I didn’t take a picture. :)
But then I’d used all the blackberries, woe! So this weekend I went out and chopped down a lot of nettles and brambles and made my way back to where More Blackberries Lurked, and this morning I went and picked another half kilo of them. If I hadn’t made the crumble I’d now have enough for more jam, but, well. It was really good crumble. :) So now I’m back to hoping the weather holds long enough for the rest of the red berries to ripen!