So Many Apples…

Apple ButterSometimes it takes the right recipe to change your mind about a food. I could never understand why people got so hype over apple butter. It always tasted so one dimensional to me. Then, The Bestie gave me some of her mom’s apple butter. I had that eye popping moment of… “Whoa! It really does exist!” (from the M&M commercials with Santa) — There really is “good” apple butter! Her mom slow baked it with a lot of cloves so it was thick and had a ton of flavor. So, oddly enough my first thought was… This would be amazing in my yogurt! The yogurt took an extra tablespoon of honey per jar because she makes it with sweet apples and doesn’t add sugar, and it was amazing.  It would probably be amazing in ice cream too.

When it was done, I figured, I’m going to see if I can figure out how to make apple butter myself. I still had three half bushels of apples from my trip up to Weaver’s Orchard (my new favorite spot to get apples and other fruit) with The Bestie. So, I certainly had enough that if I messed it up I would still have enough to try again. Since I usually get tart apples, I knew I would need to add sugar. I laid out every cookbook I had that had an apple butter recipe in it and started trying to figure out how to get started. I couldn’t believe how many of the recipes called for just a teaspoon of cinnamon for the whole batch. I love spices so that wasn’t going to work for me. So, I opened up the spice drawer and pulled out everything that sounded interesting.

Apple Butter Yogurt

Apple Butter Yogurt

It took forever to bake, which was fine since I didn’t have to do anything but check it occasionally to make sure it reached the thick consistency I was looking for. When I was done I ended up with 5-1/2 quarts so I had to can it since the freezer had absolutely no space left. I used a huge bag of apples so you can adjust the recipe proportions down as needed. The apple butter ended up being perfect on my buttered bread with my Curried Cauliflower & Potato Soup. The tartness was fantastic with the earthy spices in the soup.

 

Apple Butter

16 pounds tart baking apples (I used courtland apples), cored and quartered (leave the skins on the apples)
16 cups apple juice/cider

Zest & Juice of 3 small lemons
2 cup sugar
2 cups maple syrup
2 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp cloves
1 Tbsp allspice
1 tsp ginger
1/2 t cardamom
1 cup port
2 star anise pods

In a large stock pot over medium-low heat, cover and simmer apples in apple juice/cider for 2 hours (from the time it starts to bubble). After 2 hours apples should be soft enough to process through a food mill to puree and remove the skins.

Preheat oven to 250F.

Put the pureed apples in a non-reactive large roasting pan (glass or stainless steel). Add lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, port and star anise pods. Stir to combine. Leave to bake for 10 hours or until it reaches the desired consistency.  Remove the star anise pods before storing or serving.

Serve on warm biscuits.

 

Refrigerate the apple butter if using in the next few weeks.  Use a water-bath canner to can any apple butter you can’t use (or give away).