We grew up eating Plum Butter, pflaumenmus in German. I love the rich, tart sweetness of it. It’s nice and thick. And the colour is glorious. But as I grew up, here in Ontario, the world of apples became more and more identifiable. Quintessentially North American apple desserts like pie, crisp, dumplings, betty, were what the stores, tv shows, and magazines featured. I remember learning to make apple crisp in school. It was a new recipe for me, as it was’t something my mom was used to cooking. And when a kid is 12, 14 years old, they think that what their parents do is old fashioned, backwards. I wanted to try ‘new’ things. How pathetic. It wasn’t till years later that I came to appreciate all that my mother could and did make for us. Her style of cooking was typically European, with French dishes thrown in for good measure. It wasn’t until a decade or so back that what I had been taking for granted my whole life, was gaining a renaissance here in North America. Suddenly my mom’s cooking was trendy! Who knew?
So, apple butter. Definitely a tad more cloying than the plum butter I knew. But it was that combination of spices, the warm cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice that made me break out in a smile. A family friend is the first one who made it for me. I loved it on toast, in cereal or sandwiched between two cookies. It wasn’t till years later that I learned to appreciate serving it in a savoury way, on cheese and crackers etc. But I lost her recipe…sad.
Good ole Pinterest directed me to a great recipe at Whipperberry. I tried it and it was exactly what I remembered. I do let it cook down till very thick. I wanted to leave applesauce way back in my dust. Her recipe calls for using a crockpot. I don’t have one. So I just use an enameled Le Crueset dutch oven and cook on low. It works very well. I will include my time adjustments in the recipe. This is the perfect butter to make my Apple Butter Custard Pie with.
RICH APPLE BUTTER
- 8 small to medium apples (approx 2.5-3 lbs), peeled, cored, chopped
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2-2.5 tsp cinnamon (per liking)
- 1 tsp vanilla powder (or extract)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- pinch of kosher salt
Mix all ingredients in a crockpot. (I use a heavy bottomed pot on top of the stove)
Cook on low in crockpot for 10 hours, stirring if possible. On the stove top, I cook on low for about 2-2.5 hours. This will vary with the type of apple, heat of stove etc. Cook until the mixture is thick and dark brown.
Remove the lid, and blend the apple mixture with an immersion blender till smooth.
Cook uncovered in the crockpot for an additional 1-2 hours. I cook mine on the stove top for an additional 1/2 hour or so, until it is very thick, pulling away from the walls of the pot. Stir regular to avoid it burning on the bottom of the pan. It should be completely spreadable, spoon standing up in it, not runny!
Store in sterilized jar(s) in fridge for up to 2 weeks. Or freeze in appropriate containers
This makes 1-2 cups depending on the apples and how reduced you like it. This is one of these recipes that will vary with the type of apple you are using. Bottom line, if using as a spread, cook down till you have achieved the consistency you like. I like mine thick. If I am using for Apple Butter Custard pie, I want it at least the consistency of pumpkin puree or a tad thicker.
Spices are to your liking. They will concentrate as they cook down. You may want to taste before you blend up. Adjust at this point.
Adapted from Whipperberry Apple Butter