I’ve ended up with a lot of apples this year, which is awesome. Here is what 30 pounds of apples looks like:
This is what 4 of those bags looks like:
Seriously. And that’s not even all since Awesome Neighbor gave me some and I raided a vacant house for others. So… apple butter!
First thing you want to do is wash the apples. Why, since they are organic and unsprayed? Bird poop. Fill the sink with warm water and add half a cap of bleach. Stir around, drain, let stand wet for a few minutes, fill the sink again, add 1/4 cup of vinegar, drain, and rinse well. You don’t HAVE to go through all that, and you can skip the bleach, but I’d rather be safe.
Cut the apples in half, scoop out the seeds with a melon baller, and chop them into bits. Don’t even bother to peel ’em, most of the fiber is in the peel and we’re cooking them into oblivion anyway. So… fill your crock pot with apples. Here’s about 12 pounds before I trimmed them, and how much I actually threw away:
Pour some water, apple juice, cider (hard or otherwise) or wine in, about 8oz total. Add brown sugar and spices. Cinnamon, ginger, and clove are traditional, allspice, nutmeg, and cardamom also go into mine. Use about a half a cup of brown sugar, you can always add more later.
Cook overnight on low of during the day on high with occasional stirring. The apples will let down their juices and cook to mush.
This is with no more smooshing than a simple spoon can smoosh. Hit it with a stick blender and you’ll get this:
Looks delicious, but is it DONE? Add some of the last batch to be sure. Not only does this give you a larger variety of apple, and thus a rounder flavour, it also introduces some sugars that are already deep-caramelized and can get to nearly-scorched without actually scorching, which is what gives the apple butter its richness.
As you can see, it can get a LOT darker. Cook it some more, mine is usually on for about 24 hours. Give it another blending when you think it’s done. When is it done?
When it’s dark like chocolate and thick enough to stay on an inverted spoon it’s done. It can be hot-water canned or frozen, and it’s good in the fridge for months. I recommend 1 cup portions because that’s the amount that goes into my apple muffins.