Saturday, October 25, 2014

Apple Butter tutorial. It's That Time of Year!

Since I am known at the Farmers Market for my jams and preserves, I get alot of questions about them. So I thought I should show some of my techniques. This is more for the newbie but you never know when an idea might work out for the best; even for us old-timers. Case in point. I have always made my butters on the stove. Cutting the apples and pears up and simmering with apple juice in stock pots till they are tender. Running them thru the Foley mill and then adding sugar and spices and either canning as applesauce or continuing to cook down into butters. Well, this time I decided to try it another way. I was pressed for time as I am racing against the weather to get all my plants inside and the decks cleaned off before the hard frosts that are on their way. I couldn't be inside stirring pots of apples and be outside hauling carts of plants and planters. So I went downstairs to the canning room and looked around. I couldn't put it in the electric roaster to cook down because I was using that for some butters already cooking. The crock pots weren't big enough to handle all the fruit. But I did have several turkey roasters that go in the oven. And I thought. If I could cook on top of the stove, why not in the oven? I put the oven to about 200 degrees F. and put the roasters in. I also added some cranberries to one of the batches. Then I went outside and got to work. When I got back inside after several hours of work, the house smelled yummy! Like a crisp Fall afternoon. I put those batches thru the Foley and into crockpots to begin the cooking down operation. And started the process in the oven all over again. If anyone is wondering, I use a mix of apples for my butters. I grow Delicious, Fuji, Gala, and Braeburns here. The lady down the road had a huge box of Granny Smiths she was giving away and I bought some Pippins, Cameos, and Honey Crisps from the orchard down the street. You can also add pears and as I mentioned earlier, I added cranberries to a batch. I make cranberry apple pie, so why not butter? Anyway, I digress. So apples bake quite well in the oven. In fact, I turned the oven down a smidge more and baked some thru the night. So to make apple butter, which is really what I started out to talk about. Take a mix of apples, cut them in quarters, leaving the peel, core and seeds in and add them to a pot, crockpot, roaster with apple juice, cider, or even water if that's all you have on hand. Just enough liquid to keep it from sticking and burning. Cook until very soft. Now I should again go back and say if you don't have a Foley or jelly strainer, you can peel and core and cook the apples that way. Then mash or use a blender. I like the extra nutrients and flavor you get with all the other stuff, plus it's alot easier. So keep an eye out at yard sales and invest in a Foley mill. Once you have the fruit cooked and smashed into pulp, you have some options. You can eat it that way, or you can add some ingredients to it. If I am making it for my family, I just add some cinnamon red hot candies to it for color and flavor. Then I can it or freeze it. Mom left me wonderful memories of frozen applesauce with ice crystals throughout. Nothing better! Or the kids eat it straight from the pot so you don't have to worry about any further steps! When I am making it to sell, I add white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, or Splenda, depending what kind I am making. I use cinnamon, cloves, even some nutmeg and cardamon, again depending on what I am making. This is now applesauce. If you want butter, begin the cooking down process. Depending on the size of the batch and what and where you are cooking it, this will take from an hour to several hours. When I do my electric roasters, they can simmer for days. The juicier the fruit and the amount of liquids you use all determine the length of time to cook down. For a butter, you want it thick. Thick enough to stay on the spoon. It will darken and smell heavenly! I usually reduce it by at least half. Stir it to make sure it doesn't burn. Trust me, if you scorch it, you will taste it! And that's alot of time and effort to have ruined. I hope thru all my wandering off subject, you decided to try your hand at this. It really is fun and there's no better aroma to scent a home. And think of the compliments you'll get when you offer someone some warm applesauce or butter from the pot! Or give as a gift. We are having our annual pumpkin carving party tomorrow and you better believe I'll have some in a crockpot for the kiddos! Have fun and Happy Fall Y'all!