Now at this point in the game you may be thinking a) Georgia can't really be considered as having a 'dead of winter.' And b) I can get a kiwi from a million miles away at midnight on January 15th wearing my slippers in the grocery store - I'm not concerned with 'preserving fruit' or 'going without'! Well, stick with me here, because making your own apple butter is so simple that you just might prefer it to driving to the store.
This recipe uses a crockpot, and will take a while to make (I cooked mine a few hours at a time for a few days). You can either make this and then refrigerate/freeze, or you can can it.
1/2 peck Granny Smith apples (~5lbs)
2 cups sugar (this is all a matter of taste, you may want more or less sugar)
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t salt
Peel and core the apples. I'll let you in on a little secret. I cut each apple in quarters, and that's it. I was too lazy to chop each apple into little pieces (or pull out my Cuisinart), so I put them into the crockpot in large chunks. This requires using an immersion blender later, so if you don't have one then you may want to chop them now.
Mix the sugar, cinnamon, ground cloves and salt....
And pour over the apples....
I thought that without liquid the apples may start to burn in the crockpot. I soon saw that I had no need to worry, because after an hour of cooking there was already a lot of liquid in the bottom...
After turning the crockpot to low and covering the apple butter, cook the apples slowly over a long time. I cooked mine overnight, and then for a couple of evenings a couple of hours each (letting it cool and then sticking it in the fridge between cook times). You definitely don't need to make it as complicated as this, but with my schedule it worked best to cook it over a couple of days. After the apples get nice and soft and delicious, blend them with the immersion blender until the apple butter is smooth in consistency. At this point, the apple butter is ready to can.
I was a newby canner, so required lots of advice from my Mom. I didn't want to give anyone botulism! First, I bought a canning pot with a rack on the inside and 12 pint-sized jars (as well as lids).
Fill the pot so that an inch of water covers the jars when the rack is lowered. Add all jars (and lids) to the pot and turn the heat on high. Heating this water is going to take awhile FYI. Let the water reach 180 degrees, and once the jars have been sitting in 180 degree water for about ten minutes, pull them out of the water.
Put a funnel in a jar, and ladle the apple butter into the jar until there is about a 1/4 inch of head space. Some of my jars had more than this. Continue until all the apple butter is gone. I ended up with about 6 pints of apple butter. **Be careful about doubling this recipe. I didn't do it, but have heard bad things from people who have. Probably best to just make two batches.
Wipe the rim of the jar so that it is clean and dry. Put a lid on each jar, and screw the top on. Place the jars in the water, bring water to boil, and leave jars in for 10 minutes. Lift rack, and take jars out of the water.
The jars will then start to create a seal. You may hear them pop. After 24 hours, all of the jars should have sealed. Check this by pushing on the top of the lid. If it compresses and then pops back up, a seal was not created. Put any jar without a proper seal in the fridge and eat it before it goes bad.
Thanks so much for dropping by! If you have any good canning recipes/tips to share with everyone, please leave a comment. I'm still getting the hang of the whole canning thing, and am looking for more recipes to try.