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Fall Harvest Tradition: Making Apple Butter

Fall Harvest Tradition:  Making Apple Butter
Apple Butter

Image by Gina Marie on her website

Apple butter was another way of preserving the harvest.  Cooking the fruit down to above 50% sugar is actually a way of preserving it.  The apples were cored, cut up (peeled or unpeeled), and cooked down in the freshly pressed apple cider.  Apple butter is similar to applesauce; however, it is in the cooking down until the apples carmelize produces the lowered sugar content that actually preserves the fruit.  This carmelization is what gives apple butter its brown color.  Making apple butter in large quantities is indeed still an all-day task.  The recipe that follows still can take the good part of an afternoon.  This recipe is from GermanFood.about.com

Apple Butter

Apple Butter
Image by Jennifer McGavin on about.com

Prep Time:  15 minutes ~ Cook Time:  3 hours ~ Total Time:  3 hours, 15 minutes ~ Yield:  About 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 6 apples, peeled and quartered (about 3 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple cider or juice
  • 2 – 4 T. sweetener (agave syrup, honey, sugar)–if desired
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Directions:

  1. Chop the apples into small chunks and place in a saucepan.  Add the apple cider or apple juice (can be reconstituted from frozen), the sweetener (if desired), ground cinnamon and cloves.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring often, for one hour. The apples should be very mushy.
  3. Remove cover and simmer for another one to two hours. The mixture will get thick and turn dark brown, from the caramelized sugar.
  4. When you stop cooking is up to personal preference. Again, the picture shows apple butter which was cooked until it was shiny, dry and thick like jam. You can always quit while it is still soft.

You can always use apple butter as a sweetener in other recipes, in place of half the fat in quick breads or as an accompaniment to pork. Use it instead of maple syrup on pancakes, with your morning oatmeal and over cottage cheese. And of course, spread on your daily bread. It is lower in calories than dairy butter and has no fat.

Did you know that apple butter has no butter in it at all but was so named for its creamy consistency and also because it is used commonly for a spread on bread?

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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Fall Harvest Traditions: Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Butter

Fall Harvest Traditions:  Preserving the Apple Harvest circa 1840–Apple Butter
Apple Butter

Apple Butter

Continuing on from the previous entry regarding apple cider, another use of the apple cider was in making apple butter.  In the 1840s this was minimally an all-day endeavor, sometimes two-days, and the apples were oftentimes cooked outside in a large kettle over an open fire.  According to Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches by Eliza Leslie circa 1842, it was essential not to cook the apple butter in a brass or bell-metal (bronze with 3/4 parts copper and 1 part tin) “on account of the verdigris which the acid will collect in it, and, which will render the apple butter extremely unwholesome, not to say poisonous.”  Other recipes do allow for cooking in a brass or copper kettle as apple butter cooked in an iron pot can result in poor flavor.  However, they also do address the potential for verdigris thereby rendering the apple cider not as wholesome of a product and recommends minimum consumption.

Making Apple Butter

Image from Kimmswick Apple Butter Festival on their website

The apple butter produced would keep for a year.  The basic recipe involved filling the kettle with apple cider and boiling it down until it was reduced by half.  Peeled, cored, and quartered apples would then be added to the pot as could be covered by the cider.  Eliza Leslie advises making a large quantity of apple butter resulting in a two-day process as it would take the whole day to simply stew the apples.  The apples were cooked until softened and then removed and put aside to cool as more apples were added to cook until softened.  The next day the apples and cider would be boiled again until “the consistence is that of soft marmalade, and the colour of a very dark brown.  Twenty minutes or a half an hour before you finally take it from the fire, add powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to your taste.  If the spice is boiled too long it will lose its flavour.”

Here’s a link to an article on how to make traditional apple butter the old-fashioned way–over the open fire in a large kettle.  Copper Kettle Magic:  The Art of Making Apple Butter

Have you ever tried apple butter?

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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