Saturday, June 19, 2010

Apple Butter

I can’t remember the last time I made apple butter but it came to mind when we had an abundance of apples at work. We just had our annual team building event and my boss bought tons of apples for one of the challenges. We tried our best to eat the apples but there were still several left at the end of the week. Everyone preferred the Fuji over the Red Delicious so I took a sack of Red Delicious home with me.

Red Delicious apples are not ideal for apple sauce or butter. (But in my opinion, they are not ideal for eating either.) I had a few Fuji apples in my fridge so I added them to the batch to add more flavor.
I use citric acid because I wanted to increase the acidity without adding the lemon flavor. If you use lemon juice, the bottled stuff is recommended over fresh lemon juice because the acidity of fresh lemon juice varies.

Apple Butter:

21 apples (leave the peels and cores but discard seeds)
3 cups water
1 teaspoon citric acid or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ cups sugar (I used a mix of regular granulated and palm sugar.)
cinnamon, to taste
cloves, to taste (I couldn’t find ground cloves in my pantry so I used whole cloves and retrieved them after cooking.)
nutmeg, to taste

1. Cut apples into medium dice. In a large Dutch oven (mine was a 6.75 quart), combine apples, water and citric acid. Cover and bring to a medium boil. Cook a bout 30 to 45 minutes until soft. Allow apples to cool slightly.
2. Puree apples using either an immersion blender or regular blender. (It’s easier with an immersion blender.)
3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Slowly return the apple mixture to a boil on the stove.
4. Meanwhile, heat oven to 250 degrees.
5. Transfer Dutch oven to preheated oven. Bake several hours, stirring occasionally, until apples are thick and caramel in color.

You can store the apple butter in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks or can it for longer storage. It should last about a year if canned properly. It was my first time canning and I had 100% success rate. All of my jars sealed properly. I love the popping sounds as the jars cooled and created a vacuum. I made the apple butter a month ago and I've been checking the jars for spoilage. None so far!

Below are my instructions for canning. I'm not an expert. (My family believed in freezing as the preferred method for food preservation.) I know some people would gasp in horror with my oven sterilization method but I think it works since I am canning high acid/sugar foods and processing in a hot water bath for a longer period of time.

1. Prepare canning jars by sterilizing jars and lids. (I washed with hot soapy water and then stuck the jars in the oven after turning it off and removing the apple butter.)
2. Prepare your pot of water for canning.
3. Fill sterilized jars with hot apple butter, leaving about half an inch of space. Remove air bubbles by running a wooden chopstick through the apple butter. Wipe lips of jars with a wet paper towel. Place lid on top and then screw on the bands. Do not over-tighten.
4. Place jars in boiling water and process for 10 minutes. (I did 20 because I live 5,280 feet above sea level.) Turn off heat and leave jars in water about 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Remove jars from water and place hot jars on counter lined with kitchen towels. Leave the jars alone and let them cool. Once cool, check lids to make sure they have sealed properly. Reprocess unsealed jars or place in refrigerator and use within one week.

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