[90] Grandma L’s Apple Butter

The fact that I have this recipe is all Corrine’s fault.

You see Corrine loves her husband very much. Her husband really loves apple butter. However, once upon a time, Corrine didn’t know how to make apple butter. I guess they don’t have it in the Great Frozen North.

Corrine taught me how to make jam in 2007. That was the same year that Corrine & her family discovered several apple trees on public land, and watching several apples just rot on the ground below the trees. I recall her watching for quite a bit of time, hoping someone would come grab the apples before just going and doing it herself. As I recall, the family ended up with a couple of five gallon buckets full of cute green apples.

So there I was, in Corrine’s kitchen, learning how to make various berry jams. We also tried a new-to-her recipe for peach amaretto jam (it was stellar, and I have the cookbook, so you’ll see it at some point). I think we even discussed making apple jam, but didn’t really have much desire to do so.

But all those apples were still sitting there. And her littlest one was surely enjoying eating them, but one three-year-old can only make so much of a dent. Eventually, the fact that she loves her husband very much prompted her to mention apple butter.

Now, I have got to say, Dave’s got good taste in canned spreads. I also love me some apple butter. It is GOOD stuff. So when she mentioned it, I was all for it. But we didn’t have a recipe. So I called my grandmother, the source of probably all the apple butter I’ve ever eaten, until that day. And now I have the “recipe” for all time.

Hold your horses. It’s only sort of a recipe. In reality, my grandmother can be worse than “Jamie Oliver”:http://www.metacookbook.com/archives/184-89-Roasted-Chicken-Breast-with-Creamy-Butternut-Squash-and-Chile.html when it comes to measurements. Still, it’ll put you on the right track. And I’ll add in the things that are missing because she knew I was working with someone who knew what they were doing (mostly, this will be from the “Ball Book of Canning and Preserving”:http://www.metacookbook.com/permalink/ball-book-of-home-preserving.html, since that’s where I double check myself). I suggest that, if you want to make this recipe, you can a few things using a good book first, or work with someone who knows what they’re doing, like I was the first go-round.h2. Ingredients

A pile of apples. Call it on the order of 5lbs.
1 c apple juice, apple cider or water






h2. Instructions

Set up your canner with the rack and fill it with water for boiling.

Gut and slice your apples however you wish. Feel free to peel them, if you’d like (I tend to), but it’s not necessary. Make the slices fairly thin for faster cooking down time. Put the apple slices and the liquid in a large pot, cover, and cook over a medium-low flame until the apples are falling apart.

Turn on the flames under your canner and get it up to a solid boil. Set up a small pan of simmering water with your lids in it.

Put them through a food mill or use a strainer and spoon to remove the peels and other fibrous bits. Bill and I used a fine mesh strainer and a ladle.

Return the apple goo (not the peels & fiber) to the pan and add a bunch of cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, as well as some ginger. My grandmother suggested about a 2:1 ratio of cinnamon to allspice and nutmeg. The cloves and ginger should be on par, but decidedly even less. My handwriting indicates that she estimated 2tbsp of cinnamon for the amount of apples Corrine and I had to use, but it’s really poor handwriting. Stir this all in, and cook down until it’s the appropriate thickness for you.

Once thickened, ladle the apple butter into clean, pre-warmed jars. Use a non-reactive tool (I use a really thin rubber spatula) to coax out any air bubbles on the sides. Wipe down the rims with a dampened cloth, and put pre-warmed lids on the rims (I have a lid lifter – it’s a magnet on a plastic wand). Screw a band onto each jar, to fingertip tight (i.e. don’t really crank it down), and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat (leaving the canner lid on) for about 5 minutes before removing them from the canner and allowing to cool in a draft-free zone overnight. In the morning, check all the cans to see if the lids popped, and reprocess or refrigerate and use right away any that didn’t.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

Apple butter isn’t too far off from applesauce, in the way you make it. What’s difficult is the making of huge quantities and canning them.

I don’t think canning is inherently difficult, but I do find it inherently complicated. So far, I’ve only canned food when I have a second set of hands around to help out. And I check my canning books a great deal for advice, because of the risk of Botulism.

Basically, what I’m saying is, this still intimidates me a little, but I’m getting it. Slowly, but surely I’m getting it.

Also, I didn’t have ginger and I used up the last of my nutmeg in this recipe. What is my kitchen coming to?

Finally, we got 7 pint jars of apple butter. Bill felt that was a lot of work for so few jars, but it’s about constant with the numbers in my “Ball Book of Canning and Preserving.”:http://www.metacookbook.com/permalink/ball-book-of-home-preserving.html (Their recipe calls for 6lbs & makes 8 jars.) I think it’s mostly that we have already given away two jars and at least two more are likely to find other homes. Maybe as many as three jars.

We can make more, if we need to.

h3. Consumption

Holy crap, did I overspice this batch! Which is sad, because I used a lot less spice than I thought the recipe called for. I used 1 tbsp cinnamon, and 1/2 each of allspice and nutmeg, and a bit less than 1/2 tbsp of cloves.

Originally I thought I’d overdone the cinnamon in this batch. Bill disagreed, but couldn’t put his finger on what was wrong. Eventually he said, “I think it’s the cloves,” and I realized he was right.

So, lesson learned? That same kitchen lesson we learn in the very beginning: you can always add more, but you can’t take it out. Start conservative on your spices and go upward.

Also, one of the people we gave this too said he’d go buy some cream cheese to try it out. I have never mixed such spreads, but you can bet I’m going to. I think you should try it too, and report back.

2 thoughts on “[90] Grandma L’s Apple Butter

  1. That was really one of my most favourite days. And when you and Tom came for dinner, and there was apple butter and sharp cheddar spread onto Cracked Wheat thins, oh lordy.

    • It was a truly wonderful day. I enjoyed it utterly, and it makes me so appreciative that you poked me into asking my grandmother for the recipe.

      And the apple butter/sharp cheddar/cracked wheat crackers combo was astounding. Something I never would have thought of.

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