Thursday, November 11, 2010

Brandied Apple Butter

As a result of a misguided romantic notion about apple picking, I ended up with some pretty amazing apple butter. Which, I'm happy to say, is going to be part of the Christmas sweet-treat package I make for friends and family this year.

So, I did a little research and decided Carter Mountain Grove, right up the street from Monticello and Michie Tavern, would be a fantastic place to pick apples. We headed out semi-early on a Saturday, took the hour journey and were greeted on the mountain by a teeming throng of screaming children with their well-meaning, but oblivious guardians. Who were weilding long, dangerous-looking, metal basket tipped apple-pickers. Which, I might add, on several occasions barely missed tops of heads and a few cars. Witnessing all of this, I then get out of the car and the icy wind whips right through me.

I make a split second excutive decision, abandoning all thoughts of meandering through orchards, I run for the pre-picked bushels. One apple pie, a gallon of cider, 1 bushel of Jonagold's and 1 shredded tire later- we have apple butter! And I have to say, I am in love with the crisp sweet taste of Jonagold apples. A cross between Jonanthans and Golden Delicious, the Jonagold have an attractive freckly gold and rose exterior. They are also a sizable fruit which is ideal when you have to peel so many for this project!

Typically you don't want to fiddle around too much with a canning recipe, but since apple butter is a high-acid item, it is a more flexible recipe than most. I had some applejack lying around from a failed attempt at a colonial cocktail that ended up with my friend and I gasping for air and gagging. Quite good in the apple butter though!

Hope this inpires someone to try a new project. I promise, it's worth it! PS- It helps to enlist some help during the peeling process. See below and note who's behind the camera and who's peeling ;)

B's Brandied Apple Butter (aka: Flat Tire Apple Butter)

Bushel of apples (makes approx 14 Qts of apple sauce, 3 of which will just be for you, and 3 which will be in reserve for this recipe, the rest goes in the crockpot initially for the apple butter)
5 Qt dutch oven & stockpot
8 Qt slowcooker
2 1/2 c. white sugar, divided
2 1/2 c. brown sugar, divided
1 c. orange blossom honey
1 1/2 c. apple jack brandy
6 tspn cinnamon, divided
1 tspn allspice
1 tspn clove
1 tspn cardamom
1 tspn fresh grated nutmeg
2 tspn salt
2 c. apple cider

Peel, core and cut apple into chunks. Place into dutch oven and stockpot. Fill to just overflowing. Pour 1 cup of apple cider into each pot. Cover each pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Cut to medium high heat and cook until apples are tender and fall apart. Approx. 20 minutes. Run through ricer or food mill (if you use a food mill, you can leave the skin on).

Fill crockpot w/8 Qts of apple sauce. Add 1 c. each of the white and brown sugar, honey, 4 tspn cinnamon, rest of the spices, brandy and salt. You will have in reserve a 1/2 c. each of the white & brown sugar and 2 tspns cinnamon. Cook on desired temp until reduced by 1/3 to 1/2. Add reserved 3 Qts apple sauce, sugar and cinnamon, adjusting to personal taste. Cook until reduced by an inch or so or until desired thickness. If too thick, thin w/apple cider. If too thin, keep cookin'! Run through a blender or use stick blender for final texture.

This will make approx 26-28 half pint jars of apple butter.

For canning instructions, please refer to the experts here.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried using one of those apple peeler/corer/slicer thingys? I have one and it makes quick work of a bunch of apples. You can get one at Bed Bath and Beyond for less than $20 and it will save you hours of time on a big job like this!

bellalately said...

Hey anon- I had one I bought from Crate and Barrel years ago and it was awful. It seemed dull and like you were going to hurt yourself, you had to push down so hard :) Are the ones at BB any sharper/better?

afalco said...

Hey its ann. I want to do this...but I think I will 1/2 it...or have you only done a full batch.
I will also vouch for the mechanical little house on the prairie style peeler...each season at Lucias we would go through one or two. I think some are made sort of it depends on the "brand".

bellalately said...

Hey Ann- I am pretty sure you could doa 1/2 batch just fine. Same principles apply. Cook it down to half. Add some more fresh, cook it just a smidge ;)
Yeah, the hubs was asking about one of those peelers b/c our hands were def. feeling arthritic by the time we were done w/the bushel! LOL!

JT said...

How could I not like something written by a person who seems to love cheese as much as I?