Traditional Apple Butter is cooked over a low flame for very long time so that it’s spiciness can be cooked into the apples until they are creamy and spreadable and delectable.
It takes a lot of apples, peeled apples, and a lot of time and burnt pans in the process. I’ve read that traditional cooks used copper pennies in the bottom of their kettles to keep the apple butter from sticking. That’s probably the best use for pennies that I’ve heard lately.
The last time I made apple butter, I peeled a mountain of apples; then I cooked the apples for a very very very long time; and from that mountain of apples I ended up with about 3 pints of apple butter. It didn’t seem like a practical way to use my apple harvest.
Traditional apple butter also calls for stupendous amounts of sugar.
Now, about sugar — I’ve seen lots of recipes lately that call for just apple juice as a sweetener. In my humble opinion, apple butter without sugar is tasteless. I don’t put much in — only a half cup or so in each batch — and I use fair trade organic sugar so I don’t have to feel so bad about it. :-)
So in the interest of modern time-saving and apple saving, I decided to try two new ways of making apple butter. For the first batch I cored the apples but did not peel them. I added about 3/4 cup of water to the bottom of the pot and basically just steamed them for about 10 minutes — roughly chopped, unpeeled, but scrubbed, apples. When they were soft, I put them through my Victorio Food Strainer ($50 on Amazon, and the best time-saving device in the world.)
Just look how thick this stuff is and it hasn’t even been cooked yet!
The next batch, I baked whole apples in the oven.
Aren’t they cool looking? Not what I expected at all. I just dumped the whole pan in the hopper of the food mill and again, got thick apple puree.
I put the thick puree into glass pans, added a bit of sugar, lots of spices, and baked them in a low (300-325) oven for an hour or so. Check it and stir it, and taste it after an hour. I added whole cinnamon sticks to one batch, and I really liked the extra pizazz.
I wish I could tell you the yield, but I was haphazard about it. (Yes, it’s true, I am sometimes haphazard when I cook.) But I can tell you that it was much more than three pints.
And it’s lovely to tuck in a Christmas present.