October 8, 2011

Apple Butter

We have an old apple tree in the pasture. We don't know what variety it is - it produces green and red apples with a tart flavor like a granny smith. Also, the tree produces huge amounts of fruit for two years in a row and then produces nothing the third year. The first time it didn't produce we thought maybe there was a late frost we didn't remember. But after the next time, we realized this is just how the tree cycles. This year was an on-year. We had tons of fruit.

Jeremy and I went down in the rain and picked all the apples. The tree is not very tall, but there is one branch that extends way up. Jeremy used the stirrup hoe to drop the apples down on the ground. This bruised them, but since we were just making apple butter, who cares. It was dangerous being in my shoes trying to grab the apples while others were falling from above. I got hit a few times on the head. But I survived.

Back inside, Jeremy cut the apples removing blemishes and the core. I boiled the apples until soft and then put through the food mill. With the massive amount of fruit, there were apples boiling, apples being processed and sauce cooking all at once. Unfortunately, some of the sauce got burned at one point because I didn't stir frequently enough. Finally we had all the fruit milled into our largest stock pot with a couple cups sugar and tablespoons of cinnamon - lots of taste testing and adjusting flavor to get it just right. Then came the cooking down and stirring, stirring, stirring. I came to understand why people use a huge copper pot with a paddle. My arm was dead tired when the butter was finally thick enough to start canning.

I think the most important thing when making apple butter it to make sure you get all the air bubbles out of the jars before you secure the lids. Apple butter is thick, not thin like apple sauce, so it's vital you get it really hot and don't have any pockets were bacteria can live. Then the hot jars go into the pressure cooker for 20 minutes at 10 lbs pressure.

End result - 25 pints of delicious apple butter. We've already finished one. I love to smear a thick layer on my toast. Jordan just likes to eat it with a spoon. It's also great on honey wheat crackers and zucchini muffins. Yum!

1 comment:

Robin said...

Yum! That is a lot of apple butter.