You know, the first time I ever tried apple butter, I have to say I was less than impressed. Growing up, I’m not sure if it wasn’t readily available in our area, or if we just didn’t eat it because my parents didn’t eat it. That last option is a definite possibility – my dad, who did all of our cooking, didn’t eat eggs; as a result, I never tried eggs in any form until I was a senior in high school. No joke. Well, not including eggs that were baked into desserts of course, but you know what I mean.
Anyway. I don’t think I tasted apple butter until I was in grad school, and it just wasn’t really what I was expecting it to be. I’m sure I had no idea it actually had nothing to do with any kind of real butter. I also have a feeling it probably was on the bland side, with not enough spice in it. Needless to say, I avoided it for a good long time after that – why put bland, weirdly textured (yeah, I have sensory issues) apple butter on something when you could go with REAL butter, topped with some delicious jam?!
It never really crossed my mind again until a few weeks ago. I was headed to a dog agility demonstration at an equestrian competition/fall festival with Amber, and was able to convince Daren to join us by mentioning that there would be an apple butter event going on. That sealed the deal – I had no idea he liked apple butter so much!
Then – sad face – we discovered once we got there that the apple butter festival was actually NOT at our event, but was at a separate event up the road. After a long day of agility, we never did make it up there, and I felt pretty bad about it. Then, like magic, this recipe showed up over on Brown Eyed Baker! I figured it was fate, and that I could make it up to Daren by just making him some apple butter right here at home.
The original recipe was designed for use in a slow cooker; I was hoping to not use the slow cooker since I would have put it in in the evening, and the timing just wasn’t going to work out. Luckily, making it on the stove in a Dutch oven worked just fine.
What I never expected was just how much I was going to love this! After making it, I ate it over English muffins for breakfast every day for a week. I was able to make it the texture I wanted by using my immersion blender and blending the heck out of it, and using all the spices in this recipe really helped up the flavor. Yet another win for homemade vs. store bought, hooray!
- 3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 8-9)
- ½ cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (3.75 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch ground cloves
- Pinch salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Place the apples in a Dutch oven (I used a 5.5 quart size). In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugars, spices and salt; sprinkle over the apples and stir until well coated. Cook over medium to medium-low heat until the mixture begins to simmer, then turn down the heat to low. Continue cooking for approximately 2 – 2 1/2 hours, or until the apples are completely soft and starting to fall apart. Using an immersion blender (or by transferring the apples in batches to a blender or food processor), blend the apple butter until it is at the desired texture. Stir in the vanilla extract, then continue to cook until the mixture is a deep reddish-brown and has thickened up (a ribbon of the butter drizzled over the surface should hold it’s shape for several seconds before reincorporating). You can of course taste at this point and continue cooking until it is where you would like it to be. Allow to cool, then transfer to airtight containers (mason jars work great). The apple butter can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks (use your judgment when it comes to food safety!)
Yield: about 2 pints
Source: Brown Eyed Baker