My roommate and I spent an hour or so prepping apples. I started going to town with the peeler while she made us a delicious dinner.
We went to Thistledown Farm
in Junction City, just outside of Eugene, on their last day of the season. Apples for cheap! We spent about $16 total and got 18 pounds of apples, a couple pounds of potatoes, and a few giant sweet onions.
Naturally 18 pounds of apples didn’t fit in to one crock pot… good thing I have 2, like most normal people… we split up the apples and cooked them down a couple hours, then combined them just before bedtime.
I browsed a few recipes and all of them had mixed reviews – 4 cups of sugar for 4 lbs of apples, don’t use any sugar, use vinegar, use apple juice, use apple sauce, use water, add the sugar first, add the sugar last… so, I just made it up as I went!
At the beginning, I put 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 whole cinnamon sticks and about 10 whole cloves.
Then it cooked, and cooked. And cooked.
This is what it looked like after about 3 hours:
I woke up in the morning and the house smelled fantastic, no surprises there. I fished out the cinnamon sticks and then used my immersion blender (thanks Auntie & Uncle!) until it was velvety in texture, and so perfectly, deep caramel brown. Keeping in mind that this was about 16 pounds of cored, peeled apples, I added sugar to taste, but here is roughly the mixture of sweet & spice I used:
- 2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups white
- 3-4 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp ginger
- 2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- a splash of vanilla
Ta-da! Delicious, homemade, low sugar (and fat free!), and fantastic on top of a piece of toast spread with peanut butter. It’s like the ultimate applesauce.
I didn’t take any pictures of the canning process, or the right-before-the-canning process because, well, I was too excited about it. I’d also been eating the hot apple butter right out of the crock pot intermittently over the last 12 hours, at all stages of the process. Our 18-19 pounds of apples, after all was said and done, yielded almost exactly 5 quarts of apple butter (would have been more if I had more self control). We divided the butter between 12 8oz. and 12 4oz. jars. The little “pop” of all the jars sealing was probably the most satisfying part of the whole butter process.
My boss devoured his straight out of the jar over the course of the work day, and a co-worker told me the cloves cleared his sinuses, then went on to provide a rather euphemistic analogy to how much he liked it, confirming that I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought it turned out great!
What exactly are we going to do with 24 jars of apple butter?
Happy Holidays, everyone!