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: 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.
Yesterday we went to Dublin to do any shopping that could be done in the real world. I was moderately successful; Ted was not. He was, however, very, very tired after tromping all over hell and breakfast without finding anything. Poor guy.
I had some kind of story I was going to tell about the shopping, but I seem to have forgotten it. Unless it was the fact that when I stood to get off the bus, coming home, the bottom fell out of one of the bags I had, and everything in it fell to the floor. The woman in the seat next to me, trying hard to be helpful but not understanding that the bottom had fallen out of the bag, started picking things up and putting them back into the bag, so they kept falling on my feet.
I am not, I confess, feeling wildly in the Making Goodies mood this year. I have a few friends who have Special Food Needs for whom I wish to cater, but overall my enthusiasm is pretty low. Possibly I have too much on my plate, or maybe it’s just that I’ve made 23402958659 jars of apple stuff already this year and am sort of fooded out.
But I’ve just made my first batch of vegan fudge, primarily for the dairy-and-egg-allergic son of a friend. Five seconds after I poured the last ingredient in I had Several Ideas on how to improve it next year, but it should be fine for a six year old (and the other egg-allergic adult friend I have who is also benefiting from this experiment will likely be more discerning but not complaining :)), and while I believe it’ll want keeping in the fridge for best texture, it’s setting up better than I thought it might, so I’m pretty pleased with it as an experiment.
Because I was getting the ingredients for that anyway, I’m making a batch of dairy-free fudge for another friend, too, and then a batch of regular fudge to send along with the Specialty Fudges so the snowflakes don’t have to share with the rest of their families. :)
Aside from that, though…meh. It just seems like a lot of work for things that I’m likely to end up eating myself and would rather not.
(clearly an alien has taken over my brain. i’m sure it’ll return it to me soon, and i’ll get in the goodie-making mood…)
worst. cooking. ever.
I have, in a really stunning run, made two bad batches of fudge in a row and followed it up with pie crust worse than what I made at Thanksgiving, which was, up until then, easily the worst I’d ever made. But that’s okay, because the pie I then made was too sweet, too!
Srsly. *dies in a pit*
I’ve now gotten all the necessary ingredients to make experimental allergy-safe fudge for my friend’s dairy-and-eggs-allergic son, and since I was in the market anyway I also got enough to make dairy-free fudge, which is less experimental at this point, for another friend. I will then also make regular fudge for the other members of their families, so the allergy-ridden people are not obliged to share their limited supply of Safe Fudge.
I just hope it all turns out better than the past several baking attempts, because really, this is embarrassing.
And yes, if the dairy-and-egg-free fudge turns out, I’ll post the recipe, although the key ingredient is AFAICT impossible to come by on this side of the pond. Still, could be helpful for Americans, or anybody with an America-to-Europe supply chain…
a fruit problem
We discovered we have a crabapple tree in the front garden. Chaos immediately ensued, resulting in this:
I may have a fruit problem.
Today I washed and chopped and boiled and strained all EIGHT POUNDS of those, and by the time I was done I was too tired to make jelly even if all I had to do was pour it all into a pot and boil it with sugar for fifteen minutes. And actually jar it. That was the part that seemed too hard. But the juice is an amazing shade of red and it’ll be interesting to see what color (and flavour) the resulting jam is. I hope it’s nice, because chopping all those up was a real you-know-what in the ass, as a teenage friend of mine once said to her mother. (“Honey,” her mother replied, “it’s all right to say ‘pain’.” :))
Yesterday I made more wild blackberry jam and apple jelly with cinnamon. The cinnamon apple jelly is a completely different color than the other two batches, and I don’t know if that’s because I boiled the others longer or if the cinnamon had some kind of dramatic effect on its gelling (because it seemed to gel a little faster) and color or if the two or three not-Bramley-apples that are more yellow-skinned than the Bramleys affected it or what, but it’s very pretty:
It’s got a faint pinkish tint I can’t get the phone’s sensor to register, but it’s very pretty, anyway. :)
The other day I found an apple dessert recipe that I thought looked good, and then I made it and it wasn’t so much good as “I think you could probably get out of a prison sentence with this stuff” delicious, so I made a second batch and yep, it’s that good.
I’ll post the recipe in a couple days. I’m too lazy to do it tonight. :)
I’m down to the last half basket of apples to process. I have about 12 pounds of frozen apples, four pounds of frozen apple pulp to turn into jam (because after overhearing me mumbling to myself about whether it was worth saving to make into more apple jam, which is what gave me the napalm-style burns, Ted got a spoon and tried the apple jam that was in the fridge, then left the room eating it straight from the jar, implying to me that it was worth saving…!), currently about 8 cups of crabapple juice and probably four pounds of crabapple pulp to turn into jelly and jam, another batch’s worth of wild blackberries, and half a batch of strawberries that I need to get rhubarb for so I can make one more batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam.
The weather is supposed to remain unseasonably nice for the next few days, so on Friday I’ll probably go out for a last foray into the blackberries because
EVEN THOUGH THE LANDLORD AND HIS TREE SURVEYOR FUCKING CUT DOWN HALF MY BLACKBERRY PATCH
there are still some ripening out there, and a lot down in the park where I got a couple of other big hauls. And then I’ll be done with the berries, I think, but we’ll have another apple-picking party soon and I’m going to have to figure out what the hell to do with all of them then. Like find out if there’s a local cider-maker or something…
Oh, I also got a new Old Races short story finished for the Patreon patrons, and should get that posted tomorrow. :)