It is Autumn here in the Ozark Mountains! Sadly enough, most of the apple trees are bare this year. Lots of spring rain, then extreme heat and humidity leading to a drought, seemed to have ruined the Ozark apple crop. Reports say that the trees that were heavily laden, were stripped bare by critters needing nourishment. My dear in-law's trees went through this. The fruit was there one day, then the next it was gone as if it was picked clean in the night. So needless to say, apples are few and far between and highly treasured in our neck of the woods these days.
Making jams and butters are an excellent way to begin to teach your children how to preserve/can or simply to get them in the kitchen to help. They are extremely easy and the final product is delicious!
These Gala's are the first batch of apples I got my hands on and they made a delicious Apple Butter!
As with any fruit or vegetable, be sure to wash it thoroughly.
Prepare a large, clean bowl or bucket to hold the peeled apple in. Fill with enough water to cover the amount of apples you are going to work with (one batch = 5 1/2 pounds) and then add a few glugs of lemon juice. "Glug or glugs" are my technical Ozarkian terms. You could just add a few Tablespoons of lemon juice to the water. Lemon juice is added to keep your apples from turning brown while they sit waiting for you to finish peeling, coring and slicing all of your apples.
I recommend investing in an apple peeler. They are the most handy dandy items when working with apples because they peel, core and slice beautifully all at once. Also, these peelers make it extremely easy and fun for children to join in and learn! You can remove the core and slicing gadget that comes with it if you are making Apple Pie Filling though and prefer to have the apples sliced in the traditional method. Otherwise, these sliced begin in a thin spiral which works perfectly for cooking the apple down.
See how thin the slices are? I then simply cut down the middle of the slices, it isn't necessary, but it seems to help them cook down faster because they will separate in the mix of things.
When you are all done with preparing the apples, pour the water off (drain the apples) and put the apples in your pot or slow cooker. I prefer to use the slow cooker now that I know how easy it makes this process.
In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples and mix well.
Cover and cook on high for 1 hour.
Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
Uncover and continue cooking on low for 1 hour. This allows the steam to escape and the butter to cook down.
Stir with a whisk or stick blender. I use a stick blender for a smooth texture.
Spoon your butter into sterile half-pint or pint canning jars. Process for 15 minutes in a hot-water bath. You can also put the mixture in other sterile containers and refrigerate or freeze instead of canning it.
Let me know if you have any questions!
5 1/2 pounds apples - peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of Apple Pie Spice (optional, I add it in)