One of the things that sparks the most vivid memories of my Grandmother is Apple Butter.
I remember being fascinated by the concept that you could make something from scratch that was so wonderful. Sadly by the time I was old enough to appreciate the pains it took to achieve my Grandmother was not able to share the recipe with me. It may have been written down somewhere but in all the recipes I have from her, her apple butter recipe was not among her treasured collection.
She would tell me stores of going apple picking and coming home and getting together with her friends and making huge batches of apple butter. They cooked it in a giant black cast iron kettle that they simmered over an open flame in the front yard. They had an old worn wooden paddle they used to stir the apple butter with, She explained that they would take several handfuls of new pennies and toss into the bottom of the pot to prevent the apple butter from scorching. This intrigued me and I always regretted that I was not able to help on one of these collective apple butter adventures.
Now that I have made a few batches of apple butter myself I have a greater appreciation for the process. I also know why they pooled their resources. Many hands make for happy work, not to mention spreading the workload around a bit.
After a few tries I found a recipe that I feel has to be very close to my grandmother recipe.
I usually use a combination of different apples. For this batch I used Gala and Rome apples (about 12 pounds of apples), but the absolutely essential ingredient is the apple cider. I made it one year and substituted apple juice and it simply did not have the same flavor.
Apple butter in my opinion is truly a labor of love when you factor in the time spent peeling and chopping then the hours of simmering involved. I did not realize the time commitment as I spooned the spicy deliciousness over my warm buttered toast as a child but I sure did taste the love that was packed in each spoonful.
All washed up!
Sweetened up, spiced up and simmered up…it takes about 3 to 5 hours to get the right consistency…you just have to be patient and stir, stir a lot!!!
Most recipes call for a total of 8 hours of simmering but I am not a stickler for the tradition of having it stick to a saucer when it is turned upside down, so I am just as happy with a nice thick consistency after about half that time.
Empty jars waiting to be process in a water bath…
A double batch made 10-8oz jars and three pint jars and three smaller jars.
I love hearing that little pop as the jars cool after their water bath!
The good thing about putting up the apple butter in the jars is that they will last for a very long time and you don't need to store them in the frig.
When all is said and done I get such a sense of connection to my grandmother when I stand back and look at all the jars lined up on my counter. They pail by comparison to the dozens and dozens of jars that my grandmother put up at one time but then she had a HUGE old fashioned root cellar in the basement with an actual dirt floor lined with shelves. She kept bushels of apple and potatoes down there and the shelves were lined with homemade jam and preserves and of course apple butter.
I have been toying with he idea of purchasing a pressure canner. From what I understand you need a pressure canner to put up jars of low acid foods like chili or spaghetti sauce or veggie soup. I am keeping my eye out at the goodwill or eBay…
I love auto post don’t y’all! I am working on this today, the Wednesday before Christmas and I am setting to to post next week, gotta love technology! when it works…
I’m off for a while to get my house and kitchen in order for Christmas and then as this post’s the hubs and I will be on an impromptu vacation to the Big Apple, yea you read that right. New York City, Time Square, The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Rockefeller Center…. I will have lots to post about in the new year.
Well thank you Blizzard of 2010, our flight was canceled and the next available flight was in December 31….not happening, Major bummer!
Apparently I will not have lots to post about in the New Year!