While apples are still in season, now is the time to prepare apple butter for the winter months and holiday gifts. If you’ve never done it before there’s no time like the present to try this new skill.
7 lbs apples, mixed varieties (I used Pinova, Jonagold, Macouns, and Cortlands)
6 cups all natural unsweetened apple cider (I used cold pasteurized)
4 T fresh lemon juice
10 ounces local honey
2 t cinnamon
Yield: 12 8-ounce jars
Optional: 1 t cloves, 1 t nutmeg
1. Wash, core and quarter all of the apples. You do not need to peel the apples because nutrients and pectin are contained in the skin. Toss with the lemon juice.
3. Put the entire mixture through a food mill using a fine or medium blade. (Mine is the OXO Food Mill)
4. Return the pureed apples (applesauce) to the pot. Add honey (or other sweeteners) to taste. Do not overdo this! Many recipes call for several cups of sugar. If you are using local, sweet apples, you might not need any sugar at all. The flavor might be less sharp, but it will be apples that you taste and not sugar. I used only 10 ounces of honey. Add cinnamon (or spices) to taste. Again, do not overdo this. You want to taste the apples and not simply additives. Stir well to dissolve the spices and sweetener. Feel free to split your batch and mix in different flavors.
5. Bring to a boil, and let simmer uncovered until the mixture has thickened to your desired consistency. This could take an hour or more.
6. Enjoy it fresh, storing in the fridge for two weeks, or can your apple butter to enjoy it all winter and use as gifts. I usually put one jar aside to use immediately (also as a quality control sample) and can the rest. Use a water bath canner, sterilized jars, lids, and bands. Process according to the instructions from the USDA National Center for Home Food Preservation. (http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html)
7. For gift presentation, print the labels in color on cardstock and cut the circles to fit. Unscrew the bands, place the label over the lid, and re-screw the band to keep it in place. I have two different labels for your use. I also include a gift tag with the ingredients, instructing recipients to keep the apple butter refrigerated after opening and asking to return the jar to me or re-use it instead of adding it to the recycling bin.