a quickie

Well sort of. All told, this whole process only takes a couple hours and a little longer than that if you’re canning the product. So it turns out a full bushel of apples is a freaking lot of apples. I purchased a box of McIntosh’s over a month ago and have been using them in bits and spurts throughout this time. I used 3 pounds and made an awesome apple sauce – but it only made three jars of it. I was surprised, honestly, after all that peeling and chopping. I got it in my head to make some apple butter and I’m glad I did because toast just hasn’t been the same since. It’s extremely simple and if you’re looking for a nice homemade jar of something to include in a homemade Christmas gift package, I highly recommend making this.

First:

Apple Sauce

You need:
approximately 3 lbs of apples – use a sweeter variety like McIntosh and you won’t need to add sugar
a couple cinnamon sticks
1/2 a cup of water
a couple Tablespoons of lemon juice

Peel, core, and roughly chop your apples. Place them in a large stock pot. Add in the cinnamon sticks, water, and lemon juice. Give everything and initial stir, set the pot over medium heat, and let it cook until the apples are very soft and broken down. Remove the cinnamon from the pot. If you want super smooth and uniform apple sauce, Transfer to a blender or food processor (do this a little at a time – please don’t overload your machinery then blame me when you make a mess) and process until smooth. Or you can use a fork or a masher and just roughly mash everything up. If you’re going to make apple butter, I highly recommend processing this until smooth. If you’re not into apple butter, transfer your apple sauce to jars and either keep in the fridge for a couple weeks, or can them. I canned mine.

cracker was very interested in the apple sauce. This is his “get me that” face.

Apple Butter

You need:
all of the apple sauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
a few star anise pods
a couple more cinnamon sticks
a few whole cloves (not too many – a lot of cloves tend to be REALLY overpowering)

Put your apple sauce into a stock pot. Stir in the sugars (depending on how sweet your apple sauce already is, adjust the sugar you use to your liking. You can either use both, use one of them, or use none. Depends on how sweet you like things. I used both the sugars and thought it tasted just fine. Make a spice packet of the  star anise, cinnamon sticks, and cloves (wrap these in cheesecloth and tie the cloth tightly). Drop the whole thing in the apple sauce. Set the heat to low, and let it cook down, stirring occasionally, until it becomes dark and very thick. It’s done when the apple butter holds its shape (there’s not much water in the sauce and when you spoon some onto a plate, it doesn’t “leak” any water). It will be thick and yummy. I canned mine using a basic water bath canning method.

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