: caramel apple butter

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Here I go again, making apple butter.

One might wonder if it’s worth it. It takes 7 lbs of apples to render approximately 975 ml total of apple butter (or less if you like your apple butter really thick).

With caramels added, YES, it’s especially  worth it!

I prefer my apple butter not too thick. It took 1 pound of apples to produce each jar of my apple butter. A neat tip to remember is that 2 large apples roughly equals a pound. For this recipe, you will weigh the apples after they are peeled and cored.

This produces a sweet fruit butter with a velvety texture.

If you want to know which apple varieties s are best for apple butter, they are the soft ones. They cook down faster. Braeburn, Cortland, Fuji, Gravenstein, Grimes Golden, Jonamac, Ida Red, Pipin, Spies, and the classic McIntosh will all work.

A great site, from Nova Scotia’s own Scotian Gold company, has lots of info on apple varieties and their many uses. You can find the list here.

Some uses for this gourmet spread: the centers of thumb-print cookies, a layer in apple crumble bars, or swirled through a bowl of porridge. My daughter suggested it slathered on top cinnamon rolls. Genius idea.

A quick spoonful when no one is looking is also deeply satisfying.

everyone appreciates homemade gifts

everyone appreciates homemade gifts

I’ve dressed my jars up and attached a handmade ornament. I am giving them as gifts this year, to my Christmas guests.

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Ingredients:

7 lbs peeled and cored apples, sliced

2 cups apple cider

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

4 tbsp. butter

16 oz. soft caramels (approx. 56)

 

Method:

In a large pot, over low heat, cook the apples down until they resemble a chunky apple sauce. This takes about an hour. When it reaches this point, add the cider and spices. With a spatula or wooden spoon, start to mash up any big chunks of apples, to speed along the process.

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first, cook down until you reach apple sauce consistency

Cook another 2 hours (checking and stirring occasionally), at lowest heat, then add butter and caramels. Stir well.

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Continue cooking, still at lowest heat, another 2 hours or until it reaches a consistency you like (mine resembled the thickness of peanut butter).

Remove momentarily from heat to blend with an immersion blender.

this is the finished consistency I chose

this is the finished consistency I chose

Sterilize and prepare jars for canning. Funnel in the hot apple butter. Wipe the rims of jars with clean damp cloth, to remove any apple butter splatter. Place on lids and rings, tighten, and place into boiling canning pot for 5 minutes (or double that if you live more than 1000 ft above sea level). *Make sure the water level is at least an inch above the jars so they are fully immersed.

When done, carefully set processed jars on counter to remain undisturbed for several hours. Then check to make sure they have sealed properly.

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This made seven 125 ml  jars

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: apple butter

apple butter on cookie

Nearly every site with an apple butter recipe advocates the use of a slow cooker. This was my first time making it so I thought I’d use a more hands-on method. I wanted to be involved in the process…So I cooked it on my stove top.

This was my first time trying apple butter. It is fantastic! It has a deep, rich brown colour, it’s silky, and it melted in my mouth. To me, it seemed to have a perfect amount of sweetness and spice. I don’t think I’ve ever produced something so vintage and wholesome. I think it would be hard to mess up apple butter; it practically makes itself. For little effort put in, I ended up with something that made me so excited and proud. Yes, I know that may come off a tad pathetic.

But hey, I had a lot of apples to use up…

The best part of this experience was the aroma. My house smelled amazing for the whole day!

I can imagine doing all kinds of things with this. Like spreading it on biscuits, pancakes, or muffins. Using it as a punchy layer in squares. Using it to flavour lamb or chicken dishes. It would also be great for gifting. That way you can brag a little.

Any apples will do really. I used several varieties. You will use a tonne of apples to produce an ounce of apple butter. Ok, so I exaggerate a bit. Also, it takes a very long time. With a slow cooker you can throw everything in and walk away. Many have made this overnight as they sleep. If you go the stove top route, you will have to clear your schedule for a day. But it’s so worth it!

Ingredients:

5 lbs apples, peeled and cored (like a medium size pot full)

1 cup brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

¼  tsp allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup water

Method:

Put chopped apples and water in a pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Eventually this produces apple sauce. Once it looks like apple sauce reduce heat as low as it goes. Add in spices, sugar, and salt and give it a good stir.

Close with a lid. Stir occasionally (like every hour) until it looks like it’s reduced by half. You should keep a watch and stir more frequently if it gets a bit sticky- to prevent burning. It will be very brown and thick by this time (this will take aprox 8 hours or so to get to this point).

almost there...

almost there…

When you reach that point, remove lid and keep stirring frequently for another hour or 2 (I checked mine every 15-20 minutes), until it’s closer to a paste consistency. Then it is done. Turn off the heat. It’s not necessary, but I chose to blend mine smooth with a wand blender. Keep your apple butter hot by placing the lid back on and start preparing your jars.

apples-for-blog

In a canning pot sterilize your jars and lids. Sterilize the jars for 5 minutes, and lids for 2 minutes only. Remove lids and put aside. Keep jars inside pot to keep hot. Now, one by one take each jar out and fill to ¼ “ of the top with hot apple butter. * take care not to get apple butter on rim of jar. If you do, wipe it off with clean moist paper towel. Place lid on and screw on rings tightly. After they are all filled, place back in boiling water (that is at least 1” above the jars) to process for 10 minutes (double that time if you are at high altitude). Gently remove cans onto a towel (at least 2 inches apart). Be careful not to bump them and allow to cool for several hours.

If you have never canned before you may be surprised to hear loud pops coming from your jars during cooling. Don’t run for cover. It’s just the vacuum seal process happening in the jar. And it’s a good thing.

Test each jar for a proper seal by pushing finger into center of lid. If it moves up and down, it’s not sealed. You can reprocess it or you can refrigerate and use up within a week. For jars that have a proper seal, you can store in a cool dry place and use up within a year. My apple butter yielded six 125ml jars (the little wee ones).

: autumn hospitality

The honour system in use at Wheaton's farm.

The honour system in use at Wheaton’s farm.

Thanksgiving weekend we all jumped in the car to take in the Fall beauty. And to avoid cleaning the house. You couldn’t have asked for a better day. The sky was blue. The weather called for just a light sweater. And the colours, while not yet at their peak, had left their mark on nearly every tree.

First we headed over to Wheaton’s in Berwick – the original location as well as their homestead. During our last time shopping there we had noticed they had pumpkins in the parking lot  for $1, along with a lock box to drop your money. It’s refreshing to see the honour system still being used.

Even though it was Thanksgiving and their stores were closed, the pumpkins were still there, greeting us with their cheery orangeness. As was the lock box, so I made my purchase.

As we left, I imagined the Wheaton family somewhere inside their farm, enjoying their holiday. It’s a testament to the kind of family business when people can drop by during a holiday and not get turned away or met with suspicion.

All over Berwick we notice a real spirit of sharing this time of year. My fridge is full of apples right now because prices are so low during the harvest. They are practically given away. In fact, ‘giving away’ of one’s bounty is something witnessed regularly here. Whether it’s for corn boils, Halloween parties, or bins of free apples outside a workplace, neighbours share what they harvest.

berwick pumpkins

wheatons

beautiful October colours

berwick horses