Nothing could be simpler (or more affordable) than making apple butter for friends and family this holiday season. I had thirty apples of varying sizes and types on hand from my CSA, and needed to make space in my crisper for Thanksgiving vegetables. This led me to thinking about what I wanted to do with all of that fruit. Indeed, making use of so much fruit for preserves means a lot of preserves, and a lot of preserves means having a great personalized gift. Many people are surprised when they taste homemade goods, and give the cook a lot of credit for her labors (little do they know, its not that hard!).
Give it a try, I promise, its difficult for even the most unskilled cook to mess up. It takes a bit of time on the stove, but it will fill your home with alluring spice smells and make use of this season’s abundant orchard fruit. For other versions, try making it with pears or quince.
8-10 medium apples, peeled, quartered and cored
2-3 cups apple cider (enough almost to cover apples)
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (more to taste)
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
Place the apples and the cider in a pot and bring to a boil. Place a lid on the pot and simmer until apples are soft (about 20 minutes). Set aside to cool. Use a hand blender or regular blender to puree the cooked apples. Now, you have made apple sauce. Put the pot of apple sauce back on a medium flame, and add the sugar and spices (taste and adjust the flavor), stirring. The mixture should gradually darken as it cooks on low for 2-3 hours. Stir often. When finished, you should be able to place a dollop on a plate and it remain solid, without forming a ring of liquid around itself. Place in sterilized jars. It is delicious on bread, yogurt, ice cream, even sandwiches.