A Change of Seasons
“You aren’t planning to start preserving? Well, why shouldn’t we?”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Fruit butter is this month’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. There were so many decisions, what fruit to use and then what method of cooking. I was so very tempted to try peach or nectarine butter but the gravitational pull of autumn was more than I could resist. We stopped by Gizdich Ranch and bought newly harvested apples. On the day we went they had tiny, tiny Gravensteins, Golden Grimes, Honeycrisp, Gala and Mutsu apples. After sampling them all I chose the tangy, green skinned Mutsu for apple butter and baking. A few Golden Grimes and Honeycrisp came home for afternoon snacking. Apple season is here and I’m planning on enjoying every crisp slice.
Apple butter can be made with just apples and nothing else, but Marisa’s recipe for Maple Bourbon Apple Butter prompted me stir in maple syrup. And I couldn’t resist adding just a touch of chai spice. There are several ways to cook apples into apple butter. Traditional stove-top, oven roasting and crock pot. Roasting apples to intensify their flavor, while cooking at the same time was a technique I had to try. Any method of cooking that adds flavor without adding calories is worth exploring.
On her blog, Food in Jars, Marisa shares two genius tips for making apple butter. First, don’t peel the apples! This is the most amazing time saving tip. And it works! An added bonus is all the flavor and fiber of the apple skins are used and not wasted. Second, for a velvety smooth butter process with an immersion blender or in the food processor. Any pieces of apple peel disappear while processing the butter.
Here’s what I else learned making roasted apple butter. Homemade all apple butter is worth the effort. All that intense apple flavor is fabulous on toast or as a yogurt topping. Five pounds of apples yielded almost five cups of apple butter. It took two hours of roasting time to cook down the Mutsu apples. Roasting time will vary depending on the size of the pan and the water content of the apples. The apples cook faster on the edges and corners of the baking pan and need to be stirring back into the center of the pan for even roasting.
|Roasted Apple Butter with Maple Syrup|
|5 lbs||apples, cored and chopped in large pieces|
|1C||apple juice or cider|
|1-1/2t||chai spice or cinnamon|
- Heat the oven to 375°. Divide the apples evenly between two large baking pans with sides (9”x13” or similar) and toss with the lemon juice. Spread the apples evenly across the surface of the pans.
- Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Stir the apples and then roast for another 30 minutes. Leave the oven on and remove the pans from the oven. With a potato masher, mash the apples and then combine all the apples in one of the pans. Spread the apple puree evenly across the surface of the baking pan. Making sure the edges and corners are filled with mashed apples. Apples along edges and corners of the pan will roast faster than the apples in the center. Return the pan to the oven and roast the apples for another 30 minutes. Leave the oven on and stir the apples, redistributing the roasted edges throughout the puree. Roast the apples for another 30 minutes. When ready the apple puree will be very thick and have turned a caramel tinged brown. I roasted the Mtusu apples for a total of two hours. Total roasting time will vary depending on the size of the roasting pan and the variety of apples and their water content.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for ten minutes. In the bowl of a food processor add the apple juice or cider, the roasted apples and the spice. Process until there are no visible pieces of apple peel and the mixture is smooth and buttery. Place the apple butter in a large non-reactive pan and bring to a low simmer, stir as needed. Watch carefully as the apple butter can easily scorch. Simmer until the apple butter mounds on a spoon. Remove from heat and thoroughly stir in the maple syrup.
- Refrigerate the apple butter or continue canning in a water bath for ten minutes using USDA canning guidelines.
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