Looking at the last couple of weeks, it would appear that I am obsessed with apples. What can I tell you? They are in season. They are cheap. They are super easy to transform into all kinds of other delicious foods. Finally, I always seem to have some around that need to get used up.
You see, I am not especially picky about my apples. When I taught at a school in Maryland, I enjoyed the red delicious apples that were from the cafeteria. I think I read somewhere that red delicious are the best selling apples in the US. Now to my husband, my daughter and my friends Katie, Susan and Tim, eating a red delicious is a sin against all truly good apples like honey crisps or pink ladies. Apparently, I know several people who are pretty persnickety when it comes to their apples.
In our house, this picky apple eating, or should I more generously call it "selectivity," often leads to apples languishing in the back of the refrigerator because they have been deemed not quite up to snuff. When I find these poor guys, I channel my irritation, or self-righteousness as Dave might call it, into making apple sauce. In the end, this works out well for everyone since it uses up the apples and results in homemade apple sauce for us all to enjoy.
This year, we went above and beyond and canned a ton of apple sauce to enjoy for the rest of the year. It was in my search for directions on how best to preserve apples, that I came across several apple butter recipes. It turns out that apple butter is just apple sauce that has been sweetened, spiced and cooked way down.
So last week, I make a huge pot of apple sauce and over the course of a day on the stove it transformed into apple butter. I basically used the recipe I found on Food In Jars. Pick Your Own has a good recipe as well. But unlike most other canning applications, this one doesn't really require a recipe. Just make apple sauce, puree until it is very smooth, cook over low heat and add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger or any other spices that sound good to you. Cook slowly and stir frequently. Beware of apple butter bubbles that will splatter all over the place. If you don't have the time, energy or inclination to leave a pot of apple sauce on your stove all day, I have read that you can use a slow cooker to achieve the same effect. A large Dutch oven of sauce made 3 pint and 2 half pint jars of butter. And it is so good.
You might be thinking, "That's a lot of apple butter. What the heck would I do with all that?" Some ideas:
-Obviously it is delicious on warm toast.
-Try an apple butter cream cheese sandwich
-Spread it in a warm tortilla with a little butter for a delicious roll-up
-Put it on pancakes, waffles or French toast
-Use it as a filing for crepes. Add a little marscapone cheese for a super rich roll-up.
-Add it to oatmeal
-Put it in your homemade granola bars
-Add it to a favorite banana, zucchini or pumpkin bread recipe
-Make apple butter bread (Google it - there are a gillion recipes out there.)
-Use as a base for sweet marinade for pork
-Give it away as a holiday or hostess gift. Never underestimate how much people like to get homemade food.
So the next time you make apple sauce, consider turning into apple butter. You wont be disappointed.