“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.