Apple butter, in fact, contains no butter at all and is a highly concentrated form of apple sauce. A great way to use the bounty from Fall apple picking, make apple butter by producing a long and slow cooking of the apples with cinnamon, spices and maple syrup or sugar. The end result will be a deep brown, luxurious spread that can be eaten on toast, with roasted pork or chicken, or on its own.
Servings: 4-6 half pints
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
4 lbs. mixed apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 whole star anise
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
Juice of 2 lemons
1. Place the apples, syrup, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice in a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Make a sachet with the star anise (or add in whole) and add to the pot.
2. Cover the stock pot and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat to medium-low, partially uncover the stockpot, and cook until the apples are soft. The apples will begin to soften within 20 minutes. Let the apples cook for another hour. Gently mash the apples as needed to break them down with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.
3. Remove from heat and take out the sachet of anise. Blend with an immersion blender or in small batches in a blender until the texture is smooth but still thick--like the consistency of baby food.
4. Carefully ladle the apple butter into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headspace in the jar. Process using the following method or place lids on jars and keep refrigerated for 2 weeks. Check for and remove as many air bubbles as possible. Wipe the rims clean with a damp towel (this helps the jars to seal properly.) Place the lids on top, then the ring. Screw on the rings to finger-tight. Be sure not to over-tighten; this is done so air can escape during processing. Put the jars back into the hot water. Process for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the canner and set on racks to cool (you will hear a pop as each can seals). After the jars are sealed, tighten the rims. (If you have a jar that doesn’t seal, refrigerate and eat the apple butter within 3 weeks.)
5. Be sure to label and date the jars. The apple butter keeps for a year, unopened and 3 weeks once opened.