the food out here

Apple butter bliss

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 10/21/20

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day—definitely in my top three, if I had to be really picky. But as someone who isn’t very good at waking up early and has to be to work …

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the food out here

Apple butter bliss

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Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day—definitely in my top three, if I had to be really picky. But as someone who isn’t very good at waking up early and has to be to work consistently on time, it is likely the most missed meal of my workweek. My wife takes great care of me, though, whether it be a nice pre-made quiche or even just my cup of coffee, something is always better than nothing. With an over-abundance of apples lately, she has taken to making our yearly stockpile of a tasty spread that compliments the fresh warm toast I bake. This delicious fall fruit favorite makes its way into Christmas stockings for the family and even makes an appearance at Thanksgiving. I’m talking about good old-fashioned apple butter. For those of you who have never heard of apple butter, I will explain right away what you must be thinking: yes, butter from apples just like butter from a cow. Yes, we milk the apples to get the apple milk which we then turn into... Just making sure you are paying attention there. I jest, but in all seriousness, apple butter is a creamy applesauce-like spread with a deep aromatic apple signature, it is made by cooking down sliced apples in a spice mixture. After blending the reduced concoction to a puree, the cooking continues until much more of the water is removed than when making applesauce. Here is a tip from my wife: When checking if it is done, is to spoon a small dollop onto a clean plate and look at the edges of the dollop. If there is a watery rim to the dollop, then the cooking continues. If there is no watery ring, then you are ready to sample, store, or can as is the case here on the homestead. Yes, if you’ve been a faithful reader over the past couple months, you will note that we’ve been canning quite a bit. ‘Tis the season, after all, and I’m not too proud to say that I raced an older woman in the store to get to the freshly stocked rack of canning jars and lids this past week.

Anyways, here in the kitchen we’ve tried this a couple of ways thus far. First was to cook down the apples using a crock-pot. This took the better part of a day and, after the emulsion was blended, the lid was removed to allow the water to evaporate as it cooked. The second batch consisted of using the ceramic-coated Dutch oven on the stovetop. I realize not everyone has one of these wonderful pots, but let’s just say if you don’t have one, I recommend getting one. This method was much faster and allowed for more control of the evaporation process and speed and temp at which the apples cooked. After cooking down the apples and blending them together evenly with a stick blender, we ladled thick butter out and into our sanitized jars through a funnel before placing the lids and rims on to seal in a stovetop canning pot. We used 8 oz. jars for this but have used smaller jam jars in the past. It really doesn’t matter, but for the sake of the recipe we used, you can see the corresponding canning time below.

Once you’ve made your butter, though, be sure to keep a jar at the ready for those rushed mornings heading to work. There’s nothing better this time of year than a fresh piece of toast and a healthy slathering of apple butter to spice it up. The way out here I believe in that old adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away. But nobody ever said you couldn’t get creative with it. Happy snacking all!

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