Easy butter spreads the flavor of fall’s apples
BY JUDITH DUNBAR HINES For Sun-Times Media November 18, 2013 8:06AM
Makes about 4 cups
4 pounds apples, washed and quartered
11⁄3 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup unfiltered apple cider
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika or hickory smoke powder or to taste
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cardamom or ground cloves
1. Combine apples, brown sugar, cider and lemon juice in a slow cooker and cook, covered, on low setting for 8-10 hours until apples are very soft.
2. Add spices, increase heat to high and cook, uncovered, approximately another 8 hours until mixture has reduced to about 3 cups, stirring occasionally.
3. When the butter is thick enough to mound slightly on a spoon, rub the mixture through a wire sieve, pressing with a rubber scraper or wooden spoon to remove all of the solids.
4. To store, spoon warm mixture into small glass canning jars that have been boiled in water and are still warm. Screw on the two-piece lids and let stand on the counter for 8 hours. Store in refrigerator up to 6 months.
—Adapted from “Ready and Waiting” by Rick Rodgers
Updated: November 25, 2013 9:39PM
Sitting around a fire pit stocked with maple logs a few evenings ago brought back sweet childhood memories of “helping” my grandmother stir a huge copper pot of apple butter until it was thick and flavorful, then spreading the result on fresh baked bread or biscuits. What a wonderful flavor that was.
While you may not be able to recreate the outdoorsy charm, a slow cooker will do the job without the stirring.
Peter Klein of Seedling Fruits in Michigan recommends a mixture of tart and sweet apples. I picked up Mutsu, Spy and Honey Crisp.
I use a pinch of ground cardamom along with cinnamon and nutmeg. And adding smoked paprika or Hickory Smoke Powder (TheSpiceHouse.com) will give it the smoky flavor I fondly remember.
The resulting spread is fabulous served on warm biscuits, which are making a happy return these days in urban chic bakeries around town. The butter makes a good gift or seasonal treat as well.
Use the tiniest of canning jars, tied with a jaunty ribbon, as take-home gifts for Thanksgiving guests. For a simple fall dessert or pre-dinner tidbit, cut 2-inch squares of prepared puff pastry and tuck into mini muffin pans. Add a sliver of brie, top with a teaspoon of fresh apple butter and sprinkle with finely chopped nuts. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes and serve while warm.
Local Attractions uses the best of regional produce and products and hopes home cooks will do the same.