I've been busy with my crockpot making apple butter, and the waft of spiced apple is everywhere. Emi came home from swim club and remarked on it before I'd even got the front door open ... .
And happily the product of all this industry tastes as good as it smells. I think apple butter is a Dutch or an Amish invention, and it's really worth trying. You can use it like jam on toast or muffins. It works beautifully as an applesauce substitute with pork or cold cuts, and you could also serve it as an accompaniment to some nice strong cheese.
The secret to making this delicious apple butter is to cook the apples very slowly over a low heat without letting them burn. So you see the crockpot is the ultimate gizmo to spare you toil and trouble. If you've got one, you'd have to be crazy not to use it.
Anyway just read on for my recipe.
First up here's my ingredient list:
2kg apples (I used a mixture of what was left from my orchard harvest, which included cooking and dessert apples)
2 cups of water
400 g granulated sugar (or so much or so little as you think tastes good. I don't have sweet palate so you may find that you need a bit more)
2 teaspoonfuls of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoonful of ground allspice
½ teaspoonful of ground cloves
1 whole vanilla pod
2 tablespoonfuls of Calvados apple brandy
Feel free to omit the brandy and adjust the spices to suit your own palate.
1. Wash the apples and cut them into quarters without peeling or coring them. If there are any bruised bits, cut them out with a knife.
2. Place the quartered apples and the water in the crockpot and cook on high for an hour. By this time the apples should be soft and mushy.
3. When the apples have cooled enough to handle safely process them through a food mill, which will turn them into an evenly textured puree, separating the seeds and skins.
4. Return the apple puree to the crockpot, add the sugar to taste. Add the spices and mix everything thoroughly.
5. Turn the crockpot on, setting it to the high setting. As soon as the mixture starts to bubble use a couple of wooden chopsticks to raise the lid slightly so that the steam can escape, allowing the mixture to thicken. Leave everything to bubble away, filling your home with its wonderful smell, on the high setting for 7 hours. Add the Calvados, stir well.
6. Start to test the mixture for a set. When you drop a spot of it on the cold saucer and leave it for a moment you should find that it forms a wrinkled skin when you push it gently with a finger. If it's not wrinkling, let it bubble away for another 5 or 10 minutes and try again.
7. Once you've reached the point where your mixture is setting, pour it into sterilised jars and seal. I sterilise my freshly washed jars by placing them and their lids in an oven, pre-heated to 150º C/ 300º F, for 20 minutes.
All the best for now,