Cinnamon Apple Butter ~~ Quick, Easy, Delicious
Apple Butter - A Great Fall Gift
The History of Apple Butter
I learned to make Apple Butter in my early twenties. My mother-in-law and I would go to the local farmers market in Atlanta and buy a bushel of apples. She would core, peel, and slice her half of the apples, parboil and cool them, then pack them into heavy duty freezer bags and toss them into the old-fashioned chest freezer in her basement. She frequently made apple pies in the winter, especially around the holidays, so keeping a supply of apples ready to mix with sugar and spices and then tuck into a flaky pie crust was important to her.
At the risk of being considered un-American, I do not particularly care for apple pie. In fact pies don't generally tempt me. Following in my maternal grandmother's footsteps, I am more of a cobbler person. Peach cobbler, blueberry cobbler, blackberry cobbler...they are easy to make, almost foolproof, and so delicious. So I found an old recipe which everyone in my family loved and I turned my half bushel of apples into Apple Butter.
The results were great, but it was a long and arduous task. Peeling and coring hundreds of apples is not for the faint-hearted. And standing over and stirring a simmering cauldron of apples for several hours takes real stamina. It was pretty much an all-day affair, but by supper time you had several beautiful rows of glass jars with their gleaming lids of Apple Butter. A litile bit of gingham and ribbon and they made lovely gifts.
I made a huge batch of apple butter every year for the next ten years. Everyone in our family knew they would get a jar between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My three sons spread it on toast, biscuits, English Muffins, and even on pancakes. They thought it tasted great and I knew it was good for them (although I kept that information to myself). Jellies and jams are mostly sugar mixed with fruit juice and a small amount of real fruit. A "butter" on the other hand. is 70 to 90% fruit with a small amount of sugar.
What About the Quick and Easy?
A few years later I realized that I had abandoned my Apple Butter making tradition. I was in graduate school and managing a household and going to classes was all I could handle. Still the Holidays didn't seem very festive and the house didn't smell right without the aroma of apples and cinnamon. Those of you who are purists or traditionalists might want to stop reading now...because I cheated.
I went to the grocery store and bought five 25 ounce jars of applesauce and I made Apple Butter like always. Honestly, it was almost as good as if made from scratch the eight hour way. Everyone loved it and no one seemed to know that it was any different, so I didn't bring it up. :)
Five Simple Ingredients
2 25 ounce jars applesauce
1-2 cups white or brown sugar or half and half
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pour apple sauce into a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Slowly stir in sugar, salt, and spices, adding a little bit at a time. Watch closely and stir often until mixture comes to a simmer. Turn heat down and continue stirring frequently for 30 minutes. Remove a small amount and allow it to cool thoroughly. Taste the Apple Butter to see if it suits you. Adjust sugar, salt, and spices at this point if needed. Simmer another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Turn off heat and ladle mixture into clean hot Mason jars. Follow the directions on the box and process the sealed jars in a water bath. Cover your counter with a towel before removing scalding hot jars from the canner. Allow then to cool slowly in an area with no drafts. Once they are completely cool, you should check the lids to make sure they are fully depressed. If they are, your Apple Butter will last at least 9-10 months. If you feel like a jar has not sealed properly, simply put it in the refrigerator and it should be fine for 4 to 6 weeks. You should have 5-6 half pint jars (8 ounces) of Apple Butter
This recipe can be cut in half or doubled depending on how many half pints you wish to make. You can also substitute 1 cup brown sugar for half the sugar, I do, but it's a matter of personal taste. Try it and see what you think. There are other Fruit Butters to discover..... Enjoy!