October’s arrival means it’s apple butter making time, at least for my husband’s side of the family. Dating back to when his grandfather purchased a copper kettle, part of the family has picked a Saturday in October to continue the tradition of making the sweet apple spread.
They start early in the morning by gathering around a table or a hay wagon to peel the bushels of apples. They spend the rest of the day making memories around the fire as everyone takes a turn stirring the apples in the kettle with a wooden paddle. Hours later when the apple butter has thickened, they pour it into canning jars, and everyone gets to take a batch home.
Of course, there is plenty to sample on bread served alongside bowls of soup.
While this method makes a large quantity of apple butter on what is typically a chilly day, there are simpler ways to go about it in the warmth of your home. Here is a recipe from the National Center For Home Preservation that you might like to try. https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/apple_butter.html
The best apple varieties to use are Jonathan, Winesap, Stayman, Golden Delicious, MacIntosh, Jonagold, Gravenstein, Cortland and Rome Beauty. A mixture of varieties produces tasty results.
For the best flavor, select apples that are at the peak of their maturity. To judge maturity, don’t go by size. Choose apples that are free of defects, such as bruises, skin breaks and decayed spots. Russeting, or little brown spots on the skin of the apple, does not affect quality.
Also be sure to choose firm (hard) apples because soft apples tend to have a mealy texture and overripe flavor.
Apple Butter Ingredients
8 pounds of apples
2 cups apple cider
2 cups vinegar
2 ¼ cups white sugar
2 ¼ cups packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
Yield: About 8 to 9 pints.
Procedure: Wash, remove stems, quarter and core fruit. Cook slowly in cider and vinegar until soft. Press fruit through a colander, food mill, or strainer. Cook fruit pulp with sugar and spices, stirring frequently. To test for doneness, remove a spoonful and hold it away from steam for two minutes. It is done if the butter remains mounded on the spoon. Another way to determine when the butter is cooked adequately is to spoon a small quantity onto a plate. When a rim of liquid does not separate around the edge of the butter, it is ready for canning. Fill hot into sterile half-pint or pint jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process for 10 minutes.
If you like to can apple products, here’s another popular fall recipe from the National Center For Home Food Preservation. https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/can_pie/apple_filling.html
Apple Pie Filling
Quality: Use firm, crisp apples. Stayman, Golden Delicious, Rome, and other varieties of similar quality are suitable. If apples lack tartness, use an additional 1/4 cup of lemon juice for each 6 quarts of slices.
To make 7 quarts, you will need:
6 quarts of blanched, sliced fresh apples
5 ½ cups of granulated sugar
1 ½ cup Clear Jel
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups cold water
5 cups apple juice
¾ cup bottled lemon juice
1 tsp nutmeg
7 drops of yellow food coloring (optional)
Procedure: Wash, peel, and core apples. Prepare slices 1/2-inch wide and place in water containing ascorbic acid to prevent browning.
For fresh fruit, place 6 cups at a time in 1 gallon of boiling water. Boil each batch 1 minute after the water returns to a boil. Drain, but keep heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot. Combine sugar, Clear Jel, and cinnamon in a large kettle with water and apple juice. If desired, food coloring and nutmeg may be added. Stir and cook on medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in drained apple slices immediately and fill jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process for 25 minutes.
Laurie Sidle is a Family and Consumer Sciences program assistant for Ohio State University Extension. She can be reached at 330-264-8722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu.