I wish my family had a tradition of jarring our own apple butter every autumn, but we don’t.
I only learned about this sweet, healthy spread a few years ago when I was dieting and looking for an alternative to butter or margarine. But I love the romantic idea of making an annual pilgrimage to the apple orchard, picking a bushel of delicious apples, then taking them home to make apple butter.
Oh, well. I suppose we could start a new tradition, because making apple butter is super easy and inexpensive. It also is very healthy because it is 100 percent natural.
People have been making apple butter since at least the Revolutionary War era. I like to imagine people in tri-cornered hats plucking apples from the tree, then carrying the bushels home to cook them down, mash them, then store them in jars for the long winter ahead.
It’s called apple butter because you spread it like butter, not because it contains any butter or actual dairy products. It is a lot like applesauce, except it’s cooked longer so it is darker, denser and sweeter.
Apple butter is healthier for you than real butter because it contains no fat and no added sugar. All the sweetness comes naturally from the fruit.
Obvioiusly, you can make apple butter any time, but it usually is made this time of year because of the apple harvest. It will keep for months in your refrigerator. It also makes a lovely, handmade gift for you to share with your family, friends and neighbors.
I found these cute little jars at the dollar store. They are just the right size.
It is very inexpensive to make, especially if you buy apples when they are on sale, which they always are this time of year. It’s also a good way to use up apples you pick yourself at the orchard.
You can use any kind of apples you like. I used a combination of a sack of inexpensive red apples I picked up at the grocery store and some green Granny Smiths I had lying around. If you want to take the time to peel the apples, that’s fine. But they are going to get cooked all the way down, then pureed anyway, so it’s not essential.
This time of year brings a lot of changes, from the color of the leaves to cooling temperatures. It sets the stage for all the rituals and traditions of the holiday season, and the long winter that follows. I think I’ll make apple butter one of those annual rites that can make these changes something to look forward to all year round.
4-5 lbs apples, cored and sliced
1 cup apple juice or cider
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to boil, then reduce to lowest heat possible. Cook until apples turn to mush and are dark brown, about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Cool. Puree using an immersion blender, or mix small batchers in the food processor or blender.
What autumn food rituals does your family enjoy every year? Share them in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!