This is a recipe I’ve carried with me for years. I make it nearly every summer and give it as gifts for Christmas. It’s rich and good, and can be used on breads like jam, in marinades and sauces, in sandwiches with some fried chicken and cheese… lots of delicious possibilities.
The recipe I follow lies somewhere between what is offered by Simply Recipes and Food in Jars. I liked the recipe from Simply Recipes when I don’t feel like peeling the apples. A food mill is often more suited to my situation, and I like the fact that the peels and cores lend pectin and flavor. The Food in Jars recipe is more specific about the canning procedure, and gives options for a chunkier fruit butter if I ever decide to peel and chop my apples instead of milling them. Sometimes I’ll just puree them with an immersion blender, which is what I’ve done this year.
The main thing to keep in mind is to cook the butter down longer than you think you need to. The more caramelized, the better the flavor. And you’ll want to invest in a splatter screen if you don’t have one already. Trust me on this.
8 lbs apples
2 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
4 cups water
Around 8 cups sugar
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (one large lemon)
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons freshly roasted and ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly roasted and ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly roasted and ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly roasted and ground cardamom
Quarter, stem and skin and seed the apples, cutting off any damaged parts (you don't need to skin them if they will later be processed through a food mill). Place in a 5-quart or larger pan with the cider vinegar and the water. Turn heat on high, stirring occasionally. When the liquid begins to boil, lower the heat to medium and continue to stir the apples every five minutes or so until they are soft and mushy.
Leave chunky or puree with an immersion blender. (If you left the skins on, run the softened apples through a food mill). Measure the remaining applesauce, and return to your pan. Cook on medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Keep the lid off so that the water can evaporate out.
Add 1/2 cup sugar for every cup of apples (8 lbs of apples would generally yield me about 16 cups of sauce after milling, which is why I listed 8 cups of sugar to the recipe list). Add the juice of one large lemon.
Dry roast your spices whole in a small saucepan on medium-high until the aroma hits your nose. Shake the pan so that the spices do not burn and continue to roast for another minute or two. Take the spices off the heat and cool. Once cooled, grind your spices in a coffee grinder and add to the pot. Taste and adjust accordingly. If you don't like cardamom or cloves or allspice, simply omit those spices from the recipe.
Stir the pot every five minutes or so, making sure to scrape the bottom to prevent burning. Cook for ~3 hours until the sauce has reduced to the desired consistency.
If you want to can your jars for long-term storage, read up on the proper canning procedures. Otherwise, funnel your apple butter into sterilized jars and store in the refrigerator.