Apple (Butter) of Your Eye
September 1, 2016
Article and photo by Lisa Crockett
fall is apple season. One of my favorite treats is an apple picked in
the wee hours on the Western Slope, then delivered to the farmers
market, and then my kitchen in time for dinner. You can buy decent
apples nearly year-round, but the apples available this time of year are
Alas, all good things come to an end, and in the
blink of an eye, everyone has forgotten about apples in favor of
pumpkin spice added to everything from coffee to bath soap. Don’t get
me wrong, pumpkin spice is one of fall’s great pleasures, but apples
deserve a little longer in the spotlight, more than one day in the sun.
Enter this recipe. Homey and pleasantly filled with fall flavors, it’s
the best way I know of to stretch the apple season just a bit.
the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that the first time I
made this recipe, I hated it. Hated. Every. Minute. I purchased what
seemed like 10 bushels of fruit on what had to have been the hottest
day of the year, determined to preserve apples enough to feed all my
friends and extended family through what I predicted to be a long
winter. I’m not a home canning expert, but on this day, I dutifully
washed countless Ball jars, ensuring that I could safely preserve
gallons and gallons of fall’s bounty.
By the end of the day, my
kitchen looked as if it had been ransacked. Sticky spatters covered
nearly every surface. The floor was treacherous to walk on. The stove
was covered in a hardened layer of fruit and sugar that I wasn’t
entirely sure I could remove. I was hot and sweaty and exhausted,
daunted at the mountain of soiled pans and utensils that sat soaking in
the sink. Though I bottled an impressive haul, the fact that the fruit
shrank with cooking meant that I ended up with less final product than I
In an addled stupor as I surveyed the wreckage
that I was pretty sure had once been my kitchen, I grabbed a humble
piece of bread, and dolloped a spoonful of the day’s work on it, popping
it in my mouth without much thought. And then, despite my exhaustion
and frustration, I was suddenly aware that all the work and mess were
worth it. This apple butter takes a handful of simple ingredients and
transforms them into something so tasty, you’ll have to resist the urge
to bathe in it.
So, when you undertake apple butter making in
your own kitchen – and I truly hope you do – know that it can be a hot,
sticky, messy process. I have modified my original recipe (given to me
by a friend who was a veteran home canning expert and all-around kitchen
maven) to make a smaller batch, which should ease the mess and hassle
factor. I strongly recommend making this amount of apple butter the
first time you make it, which will allow you to become familiar with the
process on a small scale. Once you have mastered making a batch this
size, you can feel free to double it to increase your yield.
recipe is suitable for home canning. If you’re in a hurry, though, and
plan to eat the apple butter in the space of three or four weeks,
simply put the butter in jars and store them in the fridge. With as
good as this stuff is, it won’t last long.
3 1/2 pounds tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
2 1/2 cups apple cider or apple juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
a kettle, combine apples, cider or juice and vinegar. Bring the
mixture to a boil, then simmer, covered for 30 minutes, stirring
occasionally. Place a sieve over a large bowl and press the apples,
vinegar and cider through it to create a smooth pulp. Place 8 cups of
pulp in a deep saucepan along with a cup of water, the sugar, cinnamon,
ground cloves and allspice, simmering over low heat for about two hours,
stirring often (about every five minutes) until the mixture is very
thick. Store apple butter in the fridge for several weeks.
can the apple butter: Remove the mixture from the stove and spoon into
hot, clean half-pint jars (yields three to four half pints), leaving 1/2
inch head space. Wipe rims and adjust lids. Process in a boiling
water bath for 15 minutes.
If you are new to canning, I strongly suggest consulting with the CSU Extension at http://extension.colostate.edu/.
Click on the “Nutrition, Food Safety & Health” page, then click on
“making jellies” under the topic of food preservation. The Extension
offers valuable information regarding food handling, processing times
and techniques for canning.