I'm blogging through the alphabet along with some other great bloggers over at Ben and Me. So each week (God willing!) Ill be picking a topic based on the next letter of the alphabet.
A is for Apple ButterHave you ever had the delightful experience of making apple butter outside over an open fire? If not it should be on your bucket list. At this time of year there are a lot of apple butter making parties going on at churches and fall festivals. I bet you could find somewhere to go watch!
Last year we were blessed by a sweet couple that owns a big copper kettle. They brought it to our house and we made apple butter out in our yard!
It takes a little prep work. First you need to find a good supply of apples if you don't have trees on your property. We spotted a tree full of apples in the yard of a house that was for sale, and sitting empty. We contacted the owners and they gave us permission to pick all we wanted. We split the bounty with the other couple and we still ended up with 3 large sacks plus a couple of boxes full of big nice apples!
The next step was to wash them, cut off any bad spots, and cut them in fourths to check for any worms. I went ahead and took out the core as well, but we have this fabulous machine called a Squeezo strainer that eliminates the need for doing all that. I did it anyhow because some of the cores looked suspicious, Id rather be safe than sorry. Whats worse than finding a worm in your applesauce? Finding one in your finished apple butter later and wondering if you already ate some. EWW!
The apples get cooked down a bit so they are soft but not too mushy. You don't even have to peel your apples if you have a Squeezo. You do need to peel them manually if you don't.
Here's that squeezo in action. My kids begged to turn that crank, saved my arm that day! You simply pour in the cooked apples, turn the handle, and out comes perfect applesauce in the big bowl. All of the peels, cores, etc come out the end into a smaller bowl. Our chickens gobbled those right up. Nothing was wasted.
The next day our friends came with their bog copper kettle. A fire was started and we began cooking down the applesauce. By the way I got 16 gallons of applesauce from our portion, she got about the same amount. So we had at least 30 gallons cooking down out there!
Everyone had their turn at stirring with the big "stir stick". This is the only picture I managed to get of this, I missed getting shots of the kids because I was inside washing canning jars and getting them prepped for later.
An up close shot when the sauce was just about thick enough to add the other ingredients. They have been doing this for years so I let them do that part. They added sugar, cinnamon red hot candies, and red dye to the kettle. My moms recipe simply called for sugar and cinnamon.
In the end we each had a total of 37 quarts. Here we are a year later and we still have lots of it in the pantry. We lost quite a few quarts because some jars unsealed on us. I'm not sure what caused that, perhaps the temperature didn't get high enough? But there was still plenty even after we found the unsealed jars a few weeks later.
One thing is for sure, its an experience Ill never forget, and I hope to do it again someday. Most of the kids will remember it too. The two youngest were 3 and 6, so they may not remember too much.
Want to make apple butter but don't have all that stuff? You can do it in a crock pot or on your stove as well. Just search for "apple butter tutorial" and you will find many great recipes, some that are even sugar free. (That's what I want to try next time!)