Sunday, January 10, 2010
Making apple butter is fairly simple, but it takes a long, long time. I recommend using a Crock-pot. Stove-top versions are ok, but they tend to burn if you don't watch them carefully. I've read that you should not use granny smiths, instead choosing sweeter varieties. However, we threw in a bunch of granny smiths (just to use them up), and this batch was delicious! The only other trick is to use a scant amount of cinnamon. The apples are extremely flavorful once they have cooked down all day -- no need to overpower them with baking spices.
In an effort to make things healthier, we used fruit sweetener instead of cane sugar. It is a syrup made from concentrated fruit juices. The sweetener is great for baking, and tastes sweeter than cane sugar. So, you can use less.
Makes about 2 cups
1/2 cup fruit sweetener
2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon (about 1.5 inches long)
1. Scrub the apples. Do not peel them. Cut them (cores and all) into chunks.
2. Combine apples with sweetener, water, and salt in a large pot.
3. Cook the apples, over medium heat, for 2 hours or until completely broken down. Stir often, breaking up the apples with a spoon. Add more water if it becomes too dry. The final mixture should resemble apple sauce.
4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Use a ladle or a rubber spatula to push the pulp through the strainer, leaving the seeds and skin behind. Discard the seeds and skin.
4. Transfer the pulp to a Crock-pot. Turn it on low for 8 hours. Stir occasionally, making sure to scrape the sides well.
5. After 6 hours of cooking time, add the cinnamon stick. Leave the lid slightly ajar to allow for reduction.
6. Cook for an additional 2 hours. Remove cinnamon stick. Transfer to jars or plastic containers with lids. Store in refrigerator.