Now is the time to savor apples and pears. Last year, I took advantage of local pears sold at our grocery store for $1/lb. I made pear butter, spiced with ginger and nutmeg, which goes great with pork and chicken. This year, I wanted to try apple butter. I'm simply nuts about apple butter and pumpkin butter. I cannot not try it when available.
|Applesauce & Apple Butters|
A new friend from work mentioned that she makes applesauce every year. We decided to join forces. This really is the best set up. You have someone to share the work and cost, and you get some quality time in as well. While working through batches, we looked at family photos, enjoyed tamales and margaritas, and swapped stories. I've only done a couple canning projects with friends, but so far they have taken at least 8 hrs no matter how much you are making. Make sure you have a full day to get everything done. When I'm on my own, I can easily check on things in between loads of laundry or Portal tests.
She found a great deal from a local orchard. We purchased slightly more than 100lbs for $78. It was a mixture of Red Delicious, Mutsu, and Rome. Out of that amount, we made 26 quarts. I got 5 half-pints of apple butter from 3 quarts of applesauce. You can easily see how this is not very productive or cost effective. Quarts of applesauce came to $3; apple butter costs $3.75. This is only counting for the apples and no sugar or spices, which would add only pennies anyway. The only supply costs we had were lids at about $6.
|Two different batches; the one on the right was cooked longer.|
While I had a blast doing it, and my apple butter is damn good, I don't think I'll be repeating this next year. Sadly, both kids vetoed the applesauce, so all of it is going towards apple butter. Now, if I can score on some quality apples or pre-made applesauce, I'll be adding to the shelf. Sometimes you can find “seconds,” imperfect apples with minor flaws, for an even better deal. Growing up, a neighbor had an apple tree that was pre-existing, and they did not even use them. I remember the Barefoot Farmer gathering apples that had fallen by the road that would otherwise rot. It never hurts to ask or get creative! Many orchards provide pick-your-own prices. This is a great idea for families, as everyone can be involved. One day, I would love to have some apple trees of my own. Then I could make cider, too!
It was definitely worth the experience, and nothing comes close to the taste. You can actually smell the blossoms and almost feel the fall breeze dancing through the branches.
- Rinse apples. Peel if not using a mill.
- Cut into 1” chunks. And place over medium heat in a pot.
- Add sugar to taste and a pinch of salt. You may also add spices if desired. Add ¼ cup water if necessary so that the apples don't scorch on the bottom.
- Once the apples start to break down, ladle into your mill or processor. You may use a blender if you want a smoother product.
- Ladle into hot, sterilized jars and process in a water bath for 20 minutes.
- If making apple butter, return sauce to low heat until desired thickness is achieved. (I cooked mine for 2 days on low in the crock pot.) Process in water bath for 20 minutes.