If fall had a taste, I think it would taste like apple butter. Apple butter might seem old fashioned to some people, and I know it's definitely not as popular as strawberry jam or grape jelly. But there are times when you want something your grandmother used to make. That's how I felt last week when I brought home a bag of apples from a neighbor's tree. Making apple butter is so easy to do especially if you put it in a crock pot. Apple butter is made from applesauce, and so last week I canned both applesauce and some apple butter. The recipe I used was from the Joy of Cooking.
HOMEMADE APPLE BUTTER - For 8 jars
1. Prepare apples: Fill your sink with water or use a plastic tub and wash 4 pounds of apples. Then core them by using a knife and quartering them or use a stainless apple corer.
2. Make apple sauce:
(1) Put apples in a stock pot or large pot with 1-2 cups of water depending on how full your stock pot is and cook the apples on medium heat until they are tender.
(2) This takes between 20-30 minutes. You can stir them occasionally and check and make sure there is enough water so that the sauce doesn't become scorched on the bottom of the pan.
3. Make applesauce using a food mill:
(1) Get out a large glass bowl and put the food mill on the edge of it.
(2) Fill the food mill about three-fourths full and start turning the crank. Turn the crank in both directions in order to get as much sauce out of your apples that you can.
(3) Dump the skins, core, and seeds into a compost bucket.
(4) Continue doing this until you have processed all of the apples.
Note: If you don't have a food mill, you can press the apples through a sieve.
4. Transfer the applesauce to a crock pot: Measure 8 cups of applesauce into a crockpot.
5. The Joy of Cooking says for each cup of apple butter add the following:
(1) 1/2 cup of brown sugar
(2) 1 t cinnamon
(3) 1/2 t cloves (next time I will do less cloves)
(4) 1/4 t allspice
6. Cook the apple butter on low for 6 hours. I checked mine a few times and stirred it.
7. Clean canning jars: About an hour before the apple butter is done, put your canning jars into the dishwasher or use hot soapy water and rinse them in hot water to sterilize them. Fill the jars with hot water and let them sit in this hot water until they are ready to be filled up. This will keep the jars from cracking when you put the apple butter inside of them.
8. Fill water bath canner with 4-5" of water: I use my Better Homes & Garden Cookbook for canning, and it says to fill your canner with enough water to cover the jars when they're put in for processing. The box on the Ball jars says to heat this water until it is simmering (180 F). It takes about 15-20 minutes for all of this water to get at this temperature.
9. Preparing the canning lids: Put about 2 cups of water into a small saucepan and turn it on medium heat. Don't let this water boil, or it can ruin the seals. When it gets hot, set your lids into it and keep them there until you need each of them.
10. Fill one jar at a time with apple butter: Put a large canning funnel onto the mouth of the jar and use a ladle or measuring cup to put the apple butter into the jar and allow about 1/4" left on the top for any expansion.
11. Wipe down mouth of the jar: Wipe down the top and edges of the jar to remove any apple butter that would prevent a proper seal from forming.
12. Put the lid & band on the jar: Take a lid out of the saucepan with a fork, and center it over the jar. Hold it in place with your finger and then with your other hand put on the band and tighten it until it is what they call "fingertip tight." They say to make sure the bands are not too tight because any air inside the jar must be able to escape during the canning process.
13. Fill canner with jars of apple butter: (1) Use a canning jar lifter to lower each jar into the water bath canner.(2) Better Homes & Garden says make sure the jars don't touch each other. (3) Put the lid on the canner. You count the time when you hear the water come to a rolling boil. (4) Jars should be covered with 1" of water; so add more hot water if you need to. (5) It takes 10 minutes to process either a pint or quart of apple butter, but check your chart to make any allowance for altitude.
14. Let jars sit in the canner for 5 minutes after the timer goes off: After the jars have been processed, turn off the heat and let them sit in the water bath canner for 5 minutes. Then take them out with the jar lifter and put them on a clean towel and let them sit undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Do not touch the bands or you can loosen the seal!
15. Checking to see if the jars are sealed properly: The next day you can remove the bands from the jars and check to make sure the lids have sealed. Wipe the mouth of the jar. The instructions from the package of Ball pectin say press the center of the lid, if it doesn't flex up and down, it is sealed. If the jar didn't seal, you can refrigerate it and use it within 3 weeks or you can reprocess it with a new lid.
16. Storage: You can store the jar in a pantry for up to 1 year. The jars may be stored with or without the bands.
Other jam and canning blogs you can check out:
Making Low Sugar Blackberry Jam
Making & Canning Applesauce
How to Make Low Sugar Raspberry Jam