Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Can't Stop Canning: Apple Butter
First it was peach-passionfruit jam, then some plum-vanilla preserves, now I'm certifiably insane and have moved on to the time-intensive apple butter. After a reassuring conversation with my mom, I'm over the fear of botulism and now planning on every gift I ever give including a pint of jammy something or other because otherwise it'll take J and me at least 10 years to actually consume everything I've made so far by ourselves.
Anyway, when you finish making this apple butter you'll get a flutter in your stomach: I--little ol' me--I made something like that? Wow. It's almost as good as the satisfaction you'll get when your properly filled and boiled jars go POP and you know your seal will stick. But of course, if you still have botulism fears, I could offer to put you in touch with my mother, or you can just put your preserves in the fridge instead and gobble them up quickly. One final note: please do be sure to add the lemon and lemon zest--it adds a fab, zingy touch.
enough for about 5 8 oz. jars
please do not take my canning guide as gospel and instead read what the experts have to say
10 medium-sized Granny Smith apples
a smidge less than 3 c. apple cider
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
freshly grated nutmeg
2-3 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
generous squeeze of lemon juice
freshly grated lemon rind
Special equipment needed: fine mesh strainer
Preheat your oven to 325.
Core and wedge your apples (don't peel!). Place in a large pot with the apple cider. Cook over medium heat until apples are soft and falling apart, about 15 minutes.
Put your apple mush in a food processor and whir away. You will probably have to do this in batches.
Return apples to a large, oven-proof pot. Mix in your sugar, spices and the lemon. I didn't give clear measurements here because it should all be to your own tastes. In other words, add a little of everything and then taste it! If you like it, you're done; if not, experiment. You'll probably want at least a teaspoon of all the spices. Put the whole spices in the pot right before you put it in the oven.
Put your apple mixture in the oven for 2-3 hours. It is ready when you can take a spoonful, plop it on a cold plate (chill one in the freezer for a few minutes), and no water accumulates around the apple mush.
Now comes the futsy part. Get out your fine mesh strainer and large bowl. In batches, put some of your apple mixture in the strainer, and using a wooden spoon, press as much through as possible. What comes out the other side should be smooth and creamy. You may have to scrape the underside of your mesh strainer as you go. Into another bowl, dump what won't go through the strainer (you can save this to eat as applesauce), refill the strainer and repeat until you've done it all. Whew!
At this point, if you're canning the butter, you'll want to make sure you've got a big pot of boiling water on the stove that can fit your cleaned and sterilized cans. Return your strained butter to a pot on the stove and bring it to a light boil to kill any bacteria. Then, begin filling your jars carefully, wiping the rims if you make any drips. Once filled with lids in place, put the jars in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove to a towel and let cool. If any of your jars don't POP, that's fine--just put them in the fridge and use soon.