You know it is Fall is when the temperature dips just below summer swampiness, and even though it is is still 70 degrees outside, you totally want to bundle up in blankets. I am often cold and this is the time when sweatpants, sweaters, and blankets come out of retirement and maintain a permanent vision on my couch. One of the best things about living in DC is that Fall means no more summer humidity and nostalgic autumn activities. Like apple picking. I grew up with a New England loving mom, who raised us with lots of New England traditions, something I absolutely love. The few years that I spent living in Massachusetts were spent in the typical seasonal fashion: pumpkin and apple picking, cutting down our Christmas Tree, summer camp, and sailing. I am somewhat of an afficiando of nostalgic activities. When the time has come for apple picking and I live in a big city right in the middle of farm country, I fully support the idea of roadtripping. Alright, so it was totally my idea, but coming back with 15 pounds of apples? Always a good idea.
I’ve been dying to make apple butter ever since I read about the long process from Felicity in The American Girls. Fascinated with history when I was little, I always thought I was born in the wrong century. But then I grew up and developed an early disdain for dresses so I think my own century is just fine. I spent field trips visiting the living history villages and always loved the old fashioned methods for getting work done. It always seemed so cool to churn butter and slave all day in the kitchen making something amazing. But I still love my standing mixer. Of course.
In beginning the apple butter process, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how easy it was. If you have 6 hours to spare on a lazy Sunday, you can totally have delicious apple butter. There are a few tools I used to make it even easier, like an apple corer and a blender, but even if you don’t have those, it is still doable. Most recipes call for the use of a slow cooker, but since I don’t have one of those, I used my huge soup pot. And I think it turned out so amazing. If you don’t have any of these new-fangled gadgets, just do it the old fashioned way. It will take you longer but the result is still the same. And then you can just call yourself Felicity. In a modern kitchen with and electric stove.
Apple Butter Recipe
makes about 6.5 cups of apple butter
*adapted from Ohsheglows.com
- a mixture of sweet and tart apples (I used about 8 pounds total, or 16 apples but feel free to use less for a smaller batch)
- Ground cinnamon or other spices like nutmeg, ground cloves, etc, to taste (I used only cinnamon, about 6 tbsp.)
- tiny bit of fresh lemon juice (1 tablespoon), to helps to preserve
- Sweetener, like maple syrup or apple cider, if desired (I used a very small amount, 3-4 tbsp.)
- Slice apples. Using a corer, or just a really good knife. Discard the seeds and core. There is no need to peel the apples. The skin is actually where most of the nutrients come from so keeping it will make your apple butter healthier! Add apple slices to slow cooker, or really large soup pot.
- Set stove to medium-low for about 2 hours, covered with lid. During those 2 hours, give it a few stirs as the apples tend to stick to the bottom a bit. You can add some apple juice or cider to prevent sticking. If you’d rather cook it longer on a lower heat, you can do that too.
- Mash apples and turn off heat. After 2 hours, most of the apples are soft enough to mash up with a wooden spoon or potato masher. After mashing, we have applesauce (with the peel of course)!
- Cool slightly and scoop into high-speed blender. With a big ladle, scoop the apple mixture into a blender. If you have a small blender you may have to do this in a few batches. Make sure lid is secured tightly.
- Blend the mixture. Start on a low setting and go faster until you reach max speed. You may need to let some steam escape through the top hole if there is one. Puree mixture until super smooth and buttery. If it’s still chunky, keep blending.
- Pour the apple butter back into the slow cooker. Turn heat on medium-high and cook down, uncovered, for another 45-90 minutes until it’s as thick as you desire. After 45 mins, I was left with 6 cups. The mixture will thicken as it cools, so kep this in mind as you cook the butter
- When ready, add cinnamon to taste (or other spices if desired) and a very small amount of lemon juice if desired.
- Cool completely and store in an air-tight jar for up to 1 month in the fridge.