Oh, hey you.
I know it’s been several weeks since I’ve written out a recipe. Picking up my food pantry coordinator job is partially to blame (in the BEST of ways) for this, but the bigger reason is that… I’ve got nothing. Right now, at least. All food growing and preservation has come to a stand still at this residence, and many of my meals are sauteed/stir-fried on the fly or prepared to last several days (to then be cooked up on the fly). Much like the partially-eaten meal above.
Still, my mind is never far from the farm or local food, and my penchant for list-making renders it silly to NOT think about and plan for spring activities. I’ll soon be posting my “pre-plan” can plan for 2013, but first it’s time to prime the blog pump with some off-the-canning-shelf recipes I have yet to share with you. I put up several apple products this past fall, and apple butter was at the figurative top of my 2012 can plan. I started things off with a low-sugar slow-cooker maple apple butter that was well-received by coworkers, but I also wanted to make a version that was darker, richer, and spicier. An apple butter that upon first taste would take you back to the days of old New England. I think I hit the mark with this recipe.
Small Batch Apple Butter
Yields about 3 pints total (I used quarter-pint jars)
- about 9 lbs apples, washed, cored, peeled, and chopped (I used a combo of Cortland and Macintosh)
- 4 cups pure apple cider
- 1 cup pure maple syrup (great way to use the more mineral-rich dark or Grade B syrup!)
- 2 tbsp unsulfured molasses
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 tsp whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp whole allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp salt
Combine the apples and cider in a large, non-reactive pot over medium-high heat and cover; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the apples have melted down to the consistency of chunky applesauce. For a smooth butter, turn off the heat and “buzz” this mixture with an immersion blender right in the pot or run it through a food mill. Return the mixture to the stove, add the sugars (maple and molasses) and spices (the whole spices can be tied in cheesecloth for easy removal just prior to canning), and simmer the puree until reduced by about half; be sure to stir the mixture occasionally to ensure the butter isn’t sticking or scorching. A spoonful of finished butter held away from the steamy pot should remain mounded; if it rounds up onto the spoon but falls flat after several seconds, you’ve still got applesauce and should continue to carefully cook the butter down. Adjust the butter with additional sugar or spices and puree again with an immersion blender for a super-smooth product, if desired. Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace; wipe rims and adjust two-piece caps. Process in a boiling-water bath canner for 15 minutes.