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
Prep Time: 15 minutes ~ Cook Time: 3 hours ~ Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes ~ Yield: About 1-1/2 cups
- 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
- 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.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring often, for one hour. The apples should be very mushy.
- Remove cover and simmer for another one to two hours. The mixture will get thick and turn dark brown, from the caramelized sugar.
- 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?