Every fall my mind turns to autumn produce, namely apples. Apple picking has been a family tradition of ours for 2 decades now. Late September we visit Lewin Farms in Wading River, Long Island. What I most appreciate about this farm are their dwarf apple trees…no accidents from falling from ladders. We pay for our bushel and we’re off to grandma’s house to bake pies.
The apples left over from pies I use to make apple butter, an autumn staple. I use the canning method so they will store throughout the year.
2 dozen Apples (your favorite variety)
3/4 Stick of Butter
3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
3 Tablespoons Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Cloves
Pinch of Salt
Peel and chop apples. Place apples in a large stock pot. Fill with cold water but do not cover apples. Stew apples until they boil then turn flame off. (Your apples should penetrate easily with a fork.) Drain the apples and put back into stock pot. With a masher, mash the apples until they are chunky. If you like your apple butter smooth like I do, use a hand mixer and mix the apples until they reach the desired consistency.
Add all seasoning. Stir well. Sample to make sure the taste is to your liking. Add more seasoning if you like.
Place stock pot back on the stove and turn flame as low as possible. You are not cooking the apple butter any further, just heating it up. It must be piping hot before you add it to your mason or Ball canning jars. Your kitchen will smell like an apple pie factory.
Make sure you are using canning or mason jars (the lids must have a rubber washer to ensure an air-tight seal). Canning kits are available at Walmart, Target and online.
Clean the jars with soap and water. Now you are ready to start the sterilizing process. Place the jars, mouth up, and lids into a large stock pot. Fill the jars and pot with water. Heat the pot until the water boils. Allow the water to boil for 10 minutes. (You do not have to cover the pot.)
Using a secure-grip jar lifter, carefully remove the hot jars from the stock pot. Pour out the water and immediately fill the jar with the hot apple butter that was heating on the stove. (I fill my jars in the sink…it is a messy job.) When you have filled the jar, place the lid and ring on the jar and tighten. Use a mitt to protect your hands from burns.
Reheating the apple butter serves 2 purposes: it eliminates the risk of food-borne bacteria, which will also prevent spoilage, and, it removes the air from the jar that creates the pressurized vacuum-pack seal and ensures freshness. After about an hour of placing the lid on the jars, you will hear popping sounds coming from the jars. This is expected. After the jar “pops,” you will notice that the lid is now concave, meaning all of the air has been eliminated and the vacuum-pack seal is now in place. When you open the jar, you will notice the resistance of the tight seal…you will hear a similar pop when you lift the lid. The jar must be refrigerated after it is opened.
So, on the next cool autumn morning, with the smell of brewing coffee permeating throughout your home, spread some homemade apple butter on warm toast or biscuits, or use it on waffles instead of syrup. It will also make wonderful personalized holiday gifts.
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