This weekend we had fall temperatures for a day in Tennessee. The wind was blowing briskly and the sky was that perfect blue you only see in the fall. The only thing that was missing was the fiery trees and crunching leaves. Then summer returned Sunday.
But that is the beauty of the weather in these parts; if you don't like it, just wait... it will change!
Even though the days are still warming up to shorts weather, the nights are cooling off nicely and we've been able to open our windows wide to let the sweet end-of-summer air in. That combined with the twlight that comes earlier and earlier every evening is a sure sign that autumn is nearing.
For the kids, this means it's time to compile their lists of required autumn activities. Camping. Huber Farm. Fall Break Brain Drain. For me, it means it's time to get in the kitchen.
The apples have come early this year thanks to a kind friend who has a prolific apple tree. It is a very good year for apples in Tennessee; every tree I've seen are loaded with those sweet, tart globes of goodness. These apples are good cooking apples - extra tart, although we have been eating them straight too. I love a tart, crisp apple. The kids have been submerging their slices in caramel. (I love caramel too!)
With the first bushel, I made a batch of apple butter and an apple pie. I thought I had shared My Momma's Apple Pie recipe here before, but after a quick look I realize that I probably only thought of it - that happens all the time - I think of doing something, then don't, but I'd swear I did. Ugh! You can try this delicious apple crisp recipe though until I get around to posting the pie recipe.
Right now I want to share the apple butter recipe. It's super easy. But don't tell anyone! Pretend to slave away over a hot stove while you are really camped out in the kitchen reading (like the old Rice Krispy Treats commercial) because all you have to do is throw the ingredients in the crock pot. It does all the work. (Well, occasionally, you stir the apples - if you call that "work".)
This recipe is from an old handwritten card that has been around the kitchen awhile. Parts were no longer legible. I had to make a few educated guesses, but the result was very good so I wanted to record it. Less guessing in the future. Plus the recipes I was finding online didn't have the spiciness I was looking for in an apple butter.
Guess number 1 - The original recipe calls for 2 gallons of apples. What IS 2 gallons of apples exactly? Google to the rescue. It's a peck, a 1/4 of a bushel, 8 quarts dry measure, about 10-12 lbs., or 32 medium apples. Got that? Me neither. So I just peeled and cut apples until my 6 quart crock pot was nearly full. There's no way a full peck would fit in the crock pot and I have a large one. I would say I used about half a peck of apples, 1/8 of a bushel, one gallon, 6 lbs., or 16 apples.
Guess number 2 - the amount of white sugar was completely illegible. Comparing recipes online was little help. The sugar content is all over the place. I decided to go right in the middle and use 1 & 1/2 cups of the white stuff. As I mentioned, these apples are tart. If your apples are sweeter, you could probably go with less, down to 1/2 cup. I even came across a recipe or two with no sugar at all.
So here it is the final product:
I filled this quart jar plus and 8 ounce jar, plus what the kids and I ate straight from the crock - maybe another 4 ounces. It's delicious on biscuits, toast, muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, and spoons.
Easy Spiced Apple Butter
15 apples, peeled and cut into chunks
(approximately - just fill your 6 quart crock pot leaving a little room at the top to work)
1 & 1/2 cups of white sugar
(less if you are using sweet apples, more if you are a sugar fiend)
2 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of salt
1/8 heaping teaspoon of allspice
1/8 heaping teaspoon of cloves
Mix the sugar and spices. Place the apples in the crock pot. Pour the sugar and spice mix over the apples and stir it around to distribute.
Cover the crock pot and cook on high an hour or two, stirring every hour. If you can continue stirring every hour, cook on high until the apples have cooked to mush and are a dark brown, about 4 hours.
If you need to leave (or sleep) turn to low and cook for 8 or 9 hours (overnight). You can use an immersion blender, regular blender (cool the apple butter first!), or food processor to pulse the apples if you want a smoother consistency. It doesn't take much and really doesn't need it - it's completely up to your palate.
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