Once, we were privileged to join the Millers in their apple butter boil. I went over the day before and helped my friend Robin “snitz,” or cut up, the apples. Then, the next day our whole family went over. The men stayed outside and stirred the pot while us ladies cooked the noon meal. We didn’t just boil apple butter that day, we nurtured friendships.
Well, I don’t have a copper kettle as they are hard to come by. And we ran out of that Mike Miller apple butter years ago. So this year I tried making my own in my Nesco 18-quart roaster. The results are nothing like our friend’s but my husband likes it and that is what matters.
How to make apple butter
To make my apple butter, I first made apple sauce.
Some folks use a crock pot, but I thought why make six quarts when I can make 18? And if you have neither one, you can do it in a large casserole in the oven.
Cook the sauce, uncovered in the roaster, between 300-350 degrees for many hours. The cookbooks I consulted said anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3. Mine took a lot longer.
When you think it might be thick enough, spoon some onto a plate. Tilt the plate and see if any liquid runs out of it. If so, keep cooking. You want this stuff thick.
When it is thick enough, add sugar, vinegar and spices–cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Every recipe I consulted had varying amounts. I tried to proportion it right for the amount of sauce I had, but of course the flavor is not what I wanted. I got my recipes from the Mennonite Country-Style Recipes & Kitchen Secrets by Esther H. Shank and Putting Food By by Hertzberg, Greene, and Vaughan. Also, some recipes called for cider, others for vinegar. Robin told me they use vinegar.
When done, put hot into hot jars and cap. You do not need to process apple butter as all the sugar, cloves, and vinegar do the job of preserving it.
Another easy way to put up your apples. Hope you’ve enjoyed this mini-series. And if you make your own apple butter, please share any trade secrets in the comments.
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