What is Apple Butter? Well there’s no actual butter in it, but the name-tag refers to the texture of this gently spiced smooth and spreadable apple preserve. I first came across it because my mum, Women’s Institute preserving guru, has always made it. A jar would appear on the table to enjoy with sausages or roast pork, but it’s also good in a sandwich with ham or simply spread on a slice of hot buttered toast.
The lovely team at Lakeland sent me a whole host of preserving goodies over the summer, and now the boys are safely deposited back at school i’ve got the freedom to give them a whirl.
Spurred on by a bucketful of apples from the in-law’s garden, I had a nosy through the 500 recipes in the Ball Guide to Preserving, and decided to give Apple Butter a try. There are so few ingredients – apples, water, sugar and spices – but the main faff is peeling, coring and chopping. That’s the trouble with a glut from the garden, you need to surrender yourself to a few hours of processing it all. My approach is to stick on the Woman’s Hour podcast and try and catch up on all the episodes i’ve missed over the holidays.
The American method of preserving, or canning as it is described over there, is to process the filled jars either in a hot water bath or pressure cooker to destroy any nasties that might cause the food to spoil. High-acid foods like fruit and tomatoes are suited to the hot water bath method, while low-acid foods like most vegetables are processed in the pressure cooker. I wonder what my mum will make of this American approach?
I have to confess the main reason I wanted to try the American kit was because of the unbelievably pretty jars with their quilted pattern on the glass. They’re the most pleasing jars i’ve ever clapped my eyes on. There’s even a special place marked out to stick the labels. Perfection. I bought a few boxes when we visited California last year, so I was ridiculously excited when they appeared in the Lakeland catalogue. Excitement over jam jars. Yep, it’s a thing for me.
Anyway why not get hold of some of these jars now you can get them at Lakeland and make a batch of Apple Butter and keep it stashed away to give as Christmas gifts. I’m going to start a little collection of preserves over the coming months so I can put little hampers together this season.
recipe adapted from Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving Metric Edition
Prep time: approx 1 hour (depending on how quick you can peel and chop!)
Cooking time: 30-40 mins
Makes: approx 7 x 240ml jars
1.8 kg apples
480 ml water
900g sugar (mixture of granulated and soft brown sugar for a toffee nutty finish)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1. Peel each apple, cut into quarters and remove the core and pop into a pan with the water.
2. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover with a lid and cook until soft. Remove from the heat and blitz to a smooth pulp with stick blender. You should have approx 2 litres of pulp, I had a bit less but it didn’t seem to affect the result.
3. Stir in the sugar and spices until the sugar dissolves and then rerun to a medium heat and let the mixture gently bubble away, stirring fairly regularly to stop it from sticking. The colour should turn a pleasing toffee apple shade, and it should gradually thicken.
4. Meanwhile wash your jars with hot soapy water, rinse with hot clean water and then air dry in a warm oven.
5. The apple butter is ready once you are able to pile the mixture up on a spoon. If you dolloped a little on a saucer there would be no separation of liquid from fruit. At this stage I removed the cloves using a slotted spoon to skim around for them.
6. Lay out your jars on a tray and have a funnel on hand for splash-free pouring. Pour the hot mixture into each jar, leaving a quarter of an inch gap at the top. Clean the rim of the jar and then put the lids on top followed by the screw lid.
7. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, lower your rack of jars in, making sure the lids are 2.5 cm under the surface and boil for 10 minutes with the lid on. Turn off the heat, remove the lid and allow to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the water and allow to cool completely. Check the seals, label and store jars in a dry cool dark cupboard.
Disclosure: Thanks to Lakeland for sending me the Ball Preserving Kit. I have not been paid to write this blog post and all views are my own.
I’m entering these pretty jars of Apple Butter into the following linkys…
United Cakedom is running a special one-off apple themed event – there are some lush recipes gathering already so go check it out>>>
I also thought the thrifty nature of the ingredients and the gifting potential would make my apple butter a prime candidate for Credit Crunch Munch, Camilla and Helen’s event, this month hosted by Helen on the ever brilliant Fuss Free Flavours