So, I had these three apples, two Jazz and one Granny Smith, that needed using up. They were a bit too old for eating – and besides, who wants to sit down and make a meal on three apples? – and I wasn’t in the mood for making a galette; we had no plans for folk to come over in the near future, and an entire, butter-laden (well – the way I make it) apple-filled pastry would just add another dimension to ‘what to do with this before it gets trashed’.
Then, it hit me; apple butter!
One involved two hours of constant stirring over a pot, and 4 pounds of apples, while another called for apple cider and a baker’s dozen plus a few apples. Thing is, the 4 pound recipe called for cider vinegar, which I had in the cupboard, and the baker’s dozen & cider recipe called for using a slow cooker. Both called for a food mill or a chinois, neither of which I own, but I thought I had a way around that. A little thinking and a bit of math later, this is what I did:
•3 apples, washed and quartered
(leave the cores in)
•1/2 cup cider vinegar
•1-3/4 cup water
•1/2 cup sugar
•1/2 heaping tsp cinnamon
•1/4 heaping tsp allspice
•1/4 heaping tsp cloves
•1/4 tsp nutmeg
Add the apple quarters to a slow cooker (I used a small, party-size pot), then pour the water and cider vinegar over.
Cover the pot and cook (this one has no temperature setting) for three or four hours – stirring after two hours – until the apples are soft and tender.
A chinois is basically a conical, fine-meshed sieve, whose purpose, like the food mill, is to separate the (now) apple pulp from the seeds and the stems and the seeds. Lacking this device, I removed the apples with a slotted spoon and pressed them through a large mesh sieve fitted over a bowl.
In retrospect, it would have been a might easier to remove the apple quarters, scrape the good bits from the skin into the sieve, and press it all though, thus removing the seeds and stuff without the skin clogging up the works. Still, it all worked out, and I ended up with a goodly 1-1/4 cup of apple pulp.
Wipe out the slow cooker, then add the apple pulp and the seasonings, and stir to combine.
A note on the seasonings: the amounts of sugar and spices listed were scaled to suit the amount of pulp I had. A good rule of thumb (from what I read in several recipes) is that you use 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon each of the cloves, allspice, and nutmeg for every two cups of apple pulp.
All-righty, then! We are headin’ into the home stretch – only another four hours or so to go!
Back to the slow cooker.
Stir the apple pulp and seasonings together to combine, then cover the pot and ignore it for two hours – which will be hard, because it will be smelling really nice.
Remove the cover, give it all a stir, then leave it to cook, uncovered, for another two hours or so, until the apple butter is rich and thick and oh! so good.
If you have a bunch of apples, and feel like putting something up, you can store the cooled apple butter in freezer containers, or follow standard canning procedures and process for ten minutes in a boiling water bath.
My one jar of apple butter is minding its own business on a shelf in the fridge, waiting for a bit of toast, or mebbe a biscuit or waffle. Hmmm…