Our recent trip to the apple orchard with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop was a lot of fun. Just like last time we were there, there were not too many apples left to pick from the trees any more, but there were a lot of apples of all sorts already bagged and inviting us, apple-hungry city dwellers, to buy them in truckloads. We ended up buying 4 huge bags, which means 1 bag per person! We’ve been enjoying them as is ever since and I’ve also been putting them to good culinary uses.
For example, one day I made apple butter. Apple butter is really what we would call apple jam in Azerbaijan, but it is perhaps a bit denser and thicker than jam. But don’t be fooled by the name—there is NO BUTTER in the recipe! It’s just the silky, buttery texture of the jam that gave the name to it.
You can find tons of recipes for apple butter on the Internet and in numerous cookbooks. Mine is the amalgamation of a dozen recipes that I have tweaked and refined to suit my needs. For instance, I do not discard of the apple peel and core; I make them into apple cider (required to make apple butter) instead of making apple cider from whole apples, and off they go in the pan with peeled apples to cook together.
Try this recipe. Make apple butter. Slather it onto a slice of warm toast in the morning, afternoon or evening, and enjoy. Viva apples!
Apples of all colors floating in a huge bucket of water in the apple orchard – to be pressed into delicious apple cider.
Makes about 2 cups
Note: You can adjust spices to your taste. These amounts produce a subtly spiced butter.
4 pounds apples (About 10 apples. Any variety would do. I used Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. For best results, use a combination of tart and sweet apples)
1 cup apple cider (juice) from the apple rind and core (see the recipe)
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Wash, peel and core the apples. Do not discard the peel and core. Cut the apples into wedges or chunks.
Extract the juice from the reserved rind and core in a juicer. You should obtain 1 cup of juice.
Place the apples, cider, and the rest of ingredients in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon to prevent the crust from forming and burning, until apples are very tender, about 45 minutes. Puree the apples with a potato masher or a fork.
Transfer the pureed apple mixture into a smaller saucepan. Taste and add more spices of your choice, if you wish. Cook, uncovered, over low heat, stirring often to prevent the crust from forming and scorching, until the mixture is jam-like thick and dark (light caramel color), about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool. Pack into a jar or an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.