Learning As I Chop

LAIC at the Lake

Posted in Baking/Cooking by R @ Learning As I Chop on August 31, 2011

When H and I first decided to rent this lake house for the latter part of the Summer, I envisioned lots of homemade canning and icecream. While we have been cooking and grilling a lot, my time has also been spent knitting a blanket for the daughter in my belly and reading the new book by Jonathan Franzen. We’ve also been kayaking and exploring the outdoors. As much as I love the kitchen, I want to enjoy the beauty of nature before we return to the Concrete Jungle, aka NYC. Yet on Sunday, while Irene brought lots of rain and wind into our enclave, I stood in front of the stove and made Heather’s homemade apple butter.

3-4 sweet apples (the sweeter the apple you use the less sugar you have to add)

2-2 1/2 cups of water

3/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

1/8 tsp ginger

Cut the apples into quarters, leaving the seeds and skins.  Add the water (use 2 1/2 cups if using 4 apples, 2 if using 3 apples) and bring to a boil.  Cover and boil on medium low heat for about 25 minutes until the apples are soft.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Using a wire mesh strainer add about 2 apple quarters at a time.  Using a wooden spoon (or your hand if it’s cool enough) press the apple flesh through the wire strainer; you’ll have to likely scrape it off the bottom using a spoon.  Once all of the apples have been pressed through add the water to the mixture and discard the skins/seeds.  Add the sugar and spices to the mixture and stir.  Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer and stir constantly.  You want the mixture to thicken and turn a deep brown, but not burn.  As with other preserves if you put a little dollop of the mixture onto a cooled plate it should be thick enough to not run.  (source)

As I approach motherhood, I have visions of my daughter and I making all kinds of homemade jams and spreads together. At the same time, I’d been intimidated by the process and postponed it for other, more easily seeming, options. Honestly? I don’t know why I waited so long. Making this butter was as easy as promised and tasted delicious. Few tools are required and nothing fancy is needed. I spent about $7 on a fine mesh sieve and concocted this little contraption that worked quite lovely. Even while at a lake house that lacked wooden spoons, yet somehow managed to have a potato masher.

Another perk is that this recipe has lots of time in between steps – let the apples boil, the butter thicken – so you can do other things in between. Not much hard work is needed, yet a lovely apple butter is rewarded. For my first foray into home preserves, I am quite happy with the outcome. Especially good on homemade sourdough bread (more on that later) with a bit of regular butter as well. Enjoy!

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