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Author Notes: No it doesn't take a copper pot to make this delicious spread but my brother-in-law's, who I have known since I was two, family always had a Fall apple butter party at which they would make a huge copper lined cast iron pot, like a 10 gallon size thing, full of apple butter. It was set on a cast iron trivet that sat over a slow, smoldering set of wood coals. They had this special paddle that was about 8 feet long and made of oak. It was sort of a shoe horn looking thing and everyone would take turns all day long stirring. If it wasn't stirred, especially toward the end, it was apt to scorch and after all this work no one wanted it scorched. At the end of the day out came the fried chicken and sides along with a huge heap of deep fried biscuits. Well deep fried biscuits and apple butter are just made for each other. What apple butter was left was jarred, canned and then everyone took some home. In my recipe I have adapted it from a bunch of recipes and then I have applied years of apple butter party know how. I don't like it overly sweet, I want to taste the apples, and I like to make it with real spices not oils and finally I don't want to spend all day at the stove stirring so I short cut it with a immersion blender. Use technology when you can I always say. Have fun with it and you can divide the recipe in half but if you start making pies you will go through it quick. The above picture is a york imperial apple from my orchard. I am hoping next year is the year that we really start getting to harvest a lot of apples from our antique variety trees. —thirschfeld
Serves 6 to 7 pints jars
- 20 pounds tart apples, peeled and slice thin, I use one of those fancy old fashion peeler/slicers that attaches to the counter. It makes quick work of it.
- 1 gallon really good all natural apple cider
- 1 pound brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed, ground fine (optional)
- 2 teaspoons star anise, ground (optional)
- Of the last three ingredients you need to choose one. If you decide on two than cut the amounts of spice in half. I wouldn't use all three because I think it would be a mish mash of to many flavors but that is just my taste, go with yours. An enameled cast iron pot is important to this process. ( For twenty pounds I use two pots and then once they have reduced I combine them into one. Remember the more surface space a liquid has the quicker a liquid will reduce.) The bottom is heavy enough and the heat is distributed evenly so it doesn't scorch so easily. You do NOT want this to scorch.
- Place the apples, cider and sugar in a large enameled pot and bring it to a boil. With a large wooden spoon carefully turn the ingredients as they begin to cook so that everything is cooking at the same time. Reduce the heat to medium.
- As they begin to soften start to break them up with the spoon. A potato masher works good too. Once they are even softer get out the immersion blender and puree. Reduce the heat to simmer. At this point it is applesauce.
- Now you need to simmer and occasionally stir, as it gets thicker it is more apt to burn so you need to stir more as time goes on, until the applesauce is thick, brown and reduced this can take from 3 to 5 hours. Add the spices and the optional spice and simmer for thirty minutes more.
- You can can this in a hot hot sterilized jar and a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
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