12/21/11

Apple Butter 101: How to make it + how to eat it.

I’m a sucker for seasonal recipes. In the spring I get my grill on. In the summer I make jams and pies. And during the fall, I’m all about apples.

{The supplies}

This year, while Sam was away at his bachelor party,  I tackled apple butter for the very first time with the help of some festive Christmas music and one of my besties, Katie.

Katie’s dad is actually a farmer on the Oregon Coast, and we were lucky enough to get about 6 pounds of organic apples from his orchard for our science experiment.

{The prep work is easy – no need to core or peel apples.}
{Just wash and chop.}

After washing and quartering the apples (skin and core left on!), we threw them into saucepans to cook down, with a splash of apple cider vinegar and water.

 
{Simmering apples}
{First look at mushy apples!}

Once the apples were cooked down, we fed the mushy mixture through my brand new food mill (best bridal shower gift ever).

{Getting ready to use the food mill}
{The food mill in action}

It’s a bit of a labor-intensive process to strain so much apple mush (and yes, apple mush is definitely the only way I could think to describe it), but we powered through it. And boy was it worth it.

{Post food mill action}
 
Next, we put the now seedless-and-skinless mixture back into the saucepans on low, along with sugar (about a cup per 3 pounds), cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to taste. And then we stirred until our arms ached, for about an hour and a half.

During this time, we chilled a small plate in the freezer. To confirm that the apple butter is thick enough, the trick is to drop a spoonful of the hot concoction onto the chilled plate. Ours stayed in place and didn’t run. Thanks to this plate test (and several taste tests), we knew our apple butter was official.

Now it’s confession time. We were very excited to make apple butter. However, neither Katie nor I had ever actually had apple butter So once the cooking was complete, we had a little testing extravaganza to capture the full apple butter experience.

1.  The Comfort Food: apple butter and fresh biscuit

{The best pre-packaged biscuits. Ever.}
{I can’t convey in writing how delicious these smell}
{Delish}
 
2.    The Gourmet: bri, turkey and apple butter panini
{Spreading warm apple butter on our panini}
{Warm, gooey panini. Bam!}

3.   The Classic: peanut butter and apple butter sandwich
[Oops, no picture to share here. I believe we ate the sandwich before we could take a picture.]

We were too busy licking our plates to declare a winner, but I can tell you that all three combinations were pretty awesome.

Finally, we packaged the apple butter up in jars. Since neither of us has canning equipment, we couldn’t actually seal the jars, so the apple butter has to be refrigerated. Regardless, we were preeeetty pleased with the results.

{Happy Holidays!}

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