Apples are in abundance this season and apple butter is an easy recipe that takes little preparation, even less hands-on time, and lots of apples.
This recipe is from a vintage cookbook that had no given measurements, so you know the recipe is tried and true. Most of it is eyeballed and according to your own taste. So every time you make it, it'll be your best batch.
making it the old fashioned way.
Fresh, unclarified apple juice (you know, the unpasteurized kind that's not great for little kids to drink; don't worry, we'll boil it down.)
a few pounds of yummy locally picked apples (depending on how much you're making)
a little vanilla
any other spices you fancy, adore, and love
The best apples to use are: Jonathan, Winesap, Stayman, Golden Delicious, Maclntosh, or another tasty variety, just pick your favorite. :)
In a large stock pot bring the cider to a boil. Let it boil on medium heat until it's about half the amount you started with. This will assure that any bacteria (the reason little kids can't drink it raw) is killed.
Next; pare (that means peel), core and quarter your apples, then slice them up into thinner slices into a large crock pot.
After the juice is reduced, add it to the apples until they are just covered, reserving whatever juice may be left. You don't have to get rid of the sludgy looking stuff unless you prefer to.
Let the apples and juice sit, ruminate, boil and cook in the crock pot on high until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it cook for 8-10 hours. After about 8 hours, check it every so often (half hour) to assure it's not burning. Or just start it in the evening and let it cook on low while you sleep. When you awake it'll likely be finished.
Take a fork and break up the apple pieces if they aren't already broken down as it cooks. When the butter gets to the consistency that you like, press the apples through a colander, food mill, strainer, or puree in a blender.
The consistency should be where if you spoon it there is no liquid separating from it and it stays "mounded", like butter. If it is too thick to your liking, add in more apple juice that's been boiled. Don't add in fresh apple juice, the bacteria hasn't been murdered yet, meaning it's not safe to can.
Now this is the fun part, add whatever and how ever much spices you like according to taste. "Goutez, goutez, goutez!" Try adding a little molasses, or if you want it sweeter, add honey. Although I doubt you'll need to. Go with your taste buds.
Pour the butter straight into quart jars if you want to store them in the fridge or process it to keep on the shelf for a year or two. You process the jars the same as you would do for any other type of jam, preserve, etc. For more info on canning, see here. If you do plan on canning the butter to store (at room temperature), make sure you leave a little bit of head room for the butter in the jars.
Enjoy it on toast, in a peanut butter sandwich or in a smoothie. I love it in my oatmeal. Use your imagination, follow your tummy.