Back in the autumn, a very kind work colleague gave me a whole heap of apples from her family home to bake and cook with. I used some of them to make the Tarte Aux Pommes, some to try out the apple cake in Catherine Fulvio's book and the remainder I used to make this apple butter and some apple and ginger jam.
I've found that apple butter is perfect to have on hand as a gift when visiting, as not only is it delicious and a little unusual but it is also vegetariain and vegan friendly.
Just a final note to say that though I've marked that you wait 10 days from making the butter before eating it, you don't have to do this, you could eat the apple butter as soon as it's cool, but this wait does allow the flavours to mellow and mature.
This recipe comes from Mary Norwak's The Book of Preserves which I picked up for 50 cent at our Community Fair in work last year. It's a great book with unusual flavour combinations and really useful advice regarding bottling and jarring. So if you're interested in home preserves and you see a copy of this book, get it!
First up I'm going to run through steralising the jam jars as this needs to be done at some stage during the process so that they're ready when the apple butter is ready to jar.
Scrub your jam jars in warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Place the wet, clean jam jars on an oven tray and place in the oven at a temp of between 50 - 100°C until you're ready to use them. Personally I do mine at the beginning and leave them in the oven, then I don't need to remember do it later on. Don't forget to wash the lids too!
Peel the apples and coarsely chop them.
Place the chopped apples into a large saucepan and add the water and cider.
Cook the apples and liquids over a low heat until the apples get very soft.
Once the apples are really soft, use the blender on them to make a purée. Make sure you get get it as smooth as possible.
Now comes the slightly tricky bit; weigh the purée and for each 450g of purée measure out 350g of brown sugar. Leave the sugar to one side for the moment.
Pour the apple purée back into the pot and cook on a low heat for about 30 - 40 mins until it has thickened up and coats a wooden spoon.
Add the sugar and stir through. The butter will dramatically change colour at this point, which can be a little bit of surprise, but now that you know, you will be prepared!
Add the spices; cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Leave to simmer, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has evaporated and mixture is thick and sticky.
When the mixture is ready, ladle it into your pre-prepared sterile jars.
Wipe the rim of the jars clean with a damp cloth and screw on the lid. repeat until you run out of mixture and jars.
Enjoy as an alternative to jam or marmalade.