Can you believe that it is already November 7th? Most of the leaves have been blown down from the trees and they are littering the sidewalks. My favorite market has moved a little farther north to its indoor/winter location and Thanksgiving seems to be just around the corner. One of the best things about this time of year is the plethora of apples. I can’t seem to go to the grocery store or the farmers market or a friend filled trip to the pumpkin patch without coming home with a armful of apples.
Some of these apples end up in a packed lunch, or eaten straight from the fridge, whole. Eventually, however, I can’t keep up. In the past I might transform the apples into a pie, but this time around, I decided to turn them into butter. Apple Butter.
Apple Butter is basically apple sauce, that has been given extra time to cook down with a few extra spices to get it a full and rich flavor. Last season I purchased Apple Butter from Seedling not knowing how easy it is to make my own. Take whatever apples you have stockpiled. I had a half a peck of Macintosh plus maybe 4 or 5 random extras. Sit with a big bowl and maybe catch up on a missed episode on Hulu while you peel, core and slice them up. Then you mix them with a little lemon juice and zest, Brandy (or Calvados if you have it), some cider and a cinnamon stick and let them cook down slowly for an hour. After a quick moment with the immersion blender, add a handful brown sugar, more cinnamon (ground this time) and a few other spices and let it cook until it turns into a magically thick and fragrant spread.
I had some this morning on toast, topped with over easy eggs paired with a mug of steaming hot intelligentsia. The perfect Saturday morning breakfast if you ask me. A jar of homemade apple butter would make a great holiday gift or Thanksgiving hostess present.
Approx. 4 pounds apples (half a peck plus a few-this is obviously flexible), peeled, cored and cut in wedges
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 cup apple cider (I used Seedlings Tart Cherry since its what I had…yum)
1/4 cup Brandy (or Calvados if your liquor cabinet is well stocked)
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup brown sugar (just throw in a handful)
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch cloves or allspice
Combine the apples, lemon juice, lemon zest, cider, brandy and cinnamon stick in a large, heavy dutch oven. Set the pot over low heat, allowing the mixture to come to a gentle simmer. Simmer for an hour, until the apples are very soft. Carefully remove and set aside the cinnamon stick.
Puree the apples with an immersion blender. (if you don’t own one, allow the apples to cool and puree in batches in a food processor or even a blender if you must, just don’t liquify). Return the puree and the cinnamon stick to the stove and re-heat over low heat. Stir in the sugar, spices and salt and cook for another hour or so, until the mixture is very thick.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.