Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple Butter

Fall brings apples. Applesauce. Apple Pie. Apple Cider. Apple Crisp. Applesauce. Apple Butter.
The first time I heard of apple butter, I thought it was a flavored butter, like parsley butter, but no, apple butter is like an ultra concentrated applesauce. It is called a butter, not because it contains any dairy products, but because it is a spread on breads.  It is typically spiced with cinnamon and cloves and even cider vinegar to cut the sweetness.
Apple butter is made by cooking apples with cider for a long time, in order for the sugars to caramelize.  The cooking reduces the apples by 1/3 to 1/2 of the original volume. This serves two purposes, a sweet rich flavor and it acts as a preservative for a long shelf life.
Apple butter can be used as a spread on bread, biscuits and muffins.  But it has other uses as well.
Apple butter is used as a fat alternative in baking and cooking.
-use as a side dish for pork or chicken
-add it to morning oatmeal
-add it to a grilled turkey and brie sandwich
-replace some of the oil in carrot cake batter with apple butter
-add it to BBQ sauce
-top pancakes with apple butter and toasted walnuts or pecans
-mix a few spoonfuls in with yogurt
-mix it with cooked pureed squash and a splash of light cream for a soup
-mix a few spoonfuls into a vinaigrette
-make an apple butter and cream cheese sandwich

Apple Butter Recipe - vary as desired

4 pounds of cooking apples (Fuji, Granny Smith, Cortland) peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 cup apple cider
2 cups sugar
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground anise seed
1 vanilla bean
2 T apple cider vinegar (optional)
Place apples and cider in a large pot and simmer.  Cook 20 - 30 minutes until apples are tender.
Puree the mixture with a stick blender or by removing half the mixture and blend and then repeating with the remaining apples.  Return to low heat.  Stir in sugar, lemon juice, spices and vanilla bean.  Cook 1- 2 hours stirring to prevent burning. Stir in 2 T apple cider vinegar, optional.  Let cool to room temperature.  Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

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