Apple butter in autumn is an Appalachian tradition. Historically, it’s a day-long event. Whole families would join together to simmer apple butter in copper kettles as big as wash tubs. This tradition is largely lost, but you can still find communities coming together over apple butter, the old-time way, in a copper kettle, and it’ll take all day. But you can make it at home and it’s just as good–minus the copper kettle ambience. Apple butter is one of the traditions my father brought with him when he left these hills long ago after World War II. I grew up on apple butter and yes, sometimes I thought it was odd. None of my friends had apple butter at their house. But we did. I still love apple butter today.
Servings: multiplePrep Time: a couple of hours Cook Time: 10 minutes
2 quarts apple pulp
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
For each batch per this recipe, you’ll need about four pounds (maybe 16 medium) apples (or more if your apples are small).
Cut, peel (if you must, see note), and core them. Place in a large pot; bring to a boil and simmer until soft but not liquified. Puree using a food processor or food mill.
Note: I don’t peel them. I just cut, core, and cook. I use a food mill, and by the time the apples go through the food mill, the peel is pretty well strained out. (It’s so much easier not to peel!)
What you want to end up with is two quarts of apple pulp (per recipe batch).
Combine apple pulp, sugar, and spices in a large pot. Simmer slowly until mixture thickens and rounds up on a spoon. (May take a couple of hours.) Stir frequently. Ladle hot butter into jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Put on lids and bands.
BWB 10 minutes.
For me, this makes about five and a half jars (half-pint size). You can double, triple, etc, the recipe to make as much as you want. Your house will smell great while it’s cooking!
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