confession: apple butter is one of those quintessential fall things i didn't know about growing up, like tailgating and, well, football.
i discovered it my freshman year at amherst (another quintessential fall thing) when my friend caitlin's mom sent over a homemade jar of the sweet, spicy spread. it was a revelation--turning everything from whole wheat toast to saltine crackers into something like apple pie. and, as any mcdonald's employee in the tri-state area can attest, i'm a sucker for apple pie. (it's the only thing i'll order there. okay, and the chicken mcnuggets. but i digress.)
this past sunday, jon and i decided to try our hand at not only making apple butter, but canning it for use all year long. i'll spare you the nitty-gritty of the canning process (without the proper equipment, our method included aluminum foil, an espresso cup display rack and several soaking-wet kitchen towels), but i'll happily share the recipe, which is delicious.
seeing all those jars lined up in a row makes me feel so accomplished, like i'm putting away provisions for the winter. but i doubt it'll last that long, because...
confession #2: i'm eating it right now with a spoon.
sweet and chunky apple butter
adapted from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard, via epicurious.com
5 large McIntosh apples, peeled and cored
5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 cup apple cider
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. each ground ginger and nutmeg
Cut apples into 1/2-inch dice. Combine apples and cider in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepot (a Dutch oven works great). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; boil gently 20 min. or until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
Stir in sugar, lemon juice and spices. Return to a boil, reduce heat and boil gently 25 min. more or until mixture is very thick. There will still be some apple chunks remaining; stir vigorously or mash with a potato masher if you'd like a smoother consistency. Remove from heat.
Ladle into sterilized jars and process for canning, or store in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within two weeks.
Makes about 7 cups.