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Celebrating the start of fall (Louise’s Best Apple Butter Ever)

No question, it is fall in Georgia! There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are turning all manner of colors, co-workers are arguing over SEC football, and I’m getting cravings for comfort food.

You know what else says “fall”? Apple butter. Well, technically anything apple + cinnamon, but apple butter is definitely high up on the list.

I snagged a bag of pretty Galas at Trader Joe’s last week with apple butter in mind, but had never made it before. I browsed several recipes on Pinterest, but then my mom told me about this recipe that a friend of the family makes. My mom said it’s the best apple butter she’s ever had, so I was sold. The better part? No peeling necessary–you keep the peels on, the pectin in the peels helps it solidify.

I’ll post the recipe as I was given it at the bottom of the page, but I made one big tweak. The amount of sugar it called for seemed extreme, so I decreased it significantly. I only used just under a cup and a half of brown sugar in the whole batch, and it still turned out sweet and delicious. 

Start by quartering and coring the apples, taking just the absolute toughest part of the core and leaving the rest.

Put it all in a really big saucepan (this one wasn’t *quite* big enough) and adding two cups of apple juice.

Cook on medium heat until the apples are tender and soft. For me this took 30-45 minutes, as I recall. An hour at most. I had my stove on 6 to start with (out of 10), but had to lower it to 5 because it kept almost boiling over.

Put the apples and liquid in a blender or food processor. I had to do two separate batches.

Blend for one minute, then put back in the saucepan.

With the saucepan on medium-low (3 or maybe 4 on my stove), add the sugar and spices (and alcohol, if you’re using it), and stir. I only used a cup and a half of brown sugar TOTAL for the recipe. Simmer on low or medium low until it thickens, stirring occasionally. This is totally a judgment call, I think I ended up cooking mine for an additional half hour.

Dip into mason jars while the apple butter is still hot and then flip the jars over to seal. Leave this way for a few minutes. Refrigerate to store.

And you have the most delicious apple butter ever! It turned out great, and I was really happy with the balance of sweet and tart. I definitely wouldn’t put as much sugar as the recipe calls for.

In addition to putting on bread, it’s fairly versatile. I’ve been putting a big spoonful in my oatmeal and making a delicious apple cinnamon oatmeal in the morning. You could also make cupcakes with apple butter filling, like the recipe I made for my birthday (I used peach jam but the original recipe calls for apple butter).

Louise’s Old-Fashioned Apple Butter

  • 12 – 14 applies (preferably Jonathan or Winesap; I used Gala)
  • 2 cups of apple juice
  • 1 cup of sugar for every pint of apples (I used brown sugar, and only 1 1/2 cups total)
  • Cinnamon, allspice, cloves (or apple pie spice)
  • ½ cup sauternes (optional)

Wash, core, quarter apples.  Do not peel.  Combine apples and apple juice in a very large pot and cook until fruit is tender. I cooked them on about 5-6 and it took maybe half-hour to an hour for the fruit to become tender.  Put into blender or food processor and zap for about one minute. Return to the pot on the stove and decrease heat to low or medium-low (3-4 at most).

For each pint of fruit, add one cup sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of allspice and ½  teaspoon of cloves (Louise says she usually uses about one tablespoon of apple pie spice instead). [Author’s note: I only used a cup and a half of brown sugar and it was plenty sweet, and I didn’t have any allspice and only a little apple pie spice, so I added extra cinnamon and a little extra cloves.]

Cook until it gets thick (about 30 – 45 minutes).  Can in sterilized jars and process according to canning methods (water bath 25 minutes), or just use the European method and turn the hot jars upside down for about 2 – 3 minutes to seal.

Makes about 2 full quart jars.

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