The seasons are shifting. We’re trading in summer salads for crock-pot stews and flip-flops for boots. I’m cranking up the oven again and covering up the grill, exchanging long, slow evenings on the patio for a cup of tea, a good book and sock feet.
And I’m making Apple Butter, filling the house with the scent of autumn spices and stacking the tightly sealed jars away in the pantry for some chilly morning down the road when hot buttermilk biscuits are on the breakfast menu.
I believe I may have started a new tradition. This is the first time I’ve made Apple Butter. In fact (you might want to sit down for this) this is the first time I’ve EATEN apple butter. We were an apple jelly kind of family.
To make the apple butter, I carefully peeled pounds of homegrown apples, simmered them, spiced them, stirred them and stirred them, and became just filled to the brim with autumn. A lovely way to start the season — so lovely, I might just have to do it again next year.
For now, goodbye summer; it’s been fun. Hello fall, welcome home.
5 pounds of apples, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 gallon of apple juice
1/8 cup mulling spices
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Juice of one lemon
Pour the apple juice into a large pot and add the mulling spices. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain to remove the mulling spices.
Place the apples in a large pot. Pour apple juice over apples until just covered. (I didn’t quite use the whole half gallon.) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree the mixture until smooth and return to the pot. Add the sugars, cinnamon, allspice, and lemon juice. Simmer, stirring constantly until mixture has reduced by half and thickened. About 1 ½ to 2 hours.
Note: you really do need to stir constantly. The mixture becomes VERY thick and splatters quite a bit as it bubbles. Wear oven mitts to prevent getting burned. Trust me.
Spoon apple butter into jars and store in refrigerator or can according to the guidelines in the USDA home canning guide.