The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Total Time: About 4 hours.
6 apples, washed with skins and cores removed
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pinch (1/8 tsp) of ground cloves
Makes about 2 cups of apple butter.
Cut apples into slices.
Combine apple slices and apple cider in a large saucepan. Cook slowly and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until apples are very soft (falling apart).
Gently mash the apples in the pot with your spoon or potato masher. (Alternatively, you could: Position a food mill or strainer securely over a large bowl. Press cooked apples with cider through the food mill or strainer to make a pulp. Be sure to collect all the pulp that comes through the food mill or strainer; for example, scrape any pulp clinging under the food mill into the bowl.)
Add brown sugar and spices to your apple pulp. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently. When cooking down the apples, you want to leave the lid ajar or use a splatter screen. This will allow for evaporation. Another trick is to support the lid by laying two wooden spoons across the top of the pot.
To test for doneness, spoon a small quantity onto a clean plate; when the butter mounds on the plate without liquid separating around the edge of the butter, it is ready for processing. Another way to test for doneness is to remove a spoonful of the cooked butter on a spoon and hold it away from steam for 2 minutes. It is done if the butter remains mounded on the spoon.
Pour contents into desired storage container or multiple containers. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks, freeze up to a year, or home canning is good for a year.
I never took my apples or apple butter mix out of the pot until the very end. I used a really sturdy pot, and I could tell it was done when I moved the spoon through the apple butter and everything *stayed in place*. That might have been overcooked, but it also made the apple butter very sweet and flavorful.
This recipe is a half batch. A full batch is 12 apples, 1 cup cider, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/4 tsp cloves.