Saturday, September 12, 2009

Free Apples

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were walking through our neighborhood and saw this:

We had seen the table (and an accompanying sign that said "Free Apples") a few other times, but there had never been any available bounty. This time, however, the table was full of apples. These apples were the kind that you don't see at the grocery store; they had bumps and bruises and lopsided parts. Nevertheless we stuffed our pockets full and snagged as many as we could hold in our hands and headed home.

It didn't take me long to know what I would do with my new found bounty. I was talking about it before we even reached our front porch. I would make apple butter, loaded with spices and sugar and just delicious. By 2:00 the next day, I had two beautiful jars of apple butter to put away in the pantry, and one container in the refrigerator to eat immediately.

This recipe was developed from several others; I primarily went off of my mother's pear butter recipe which I have made in the past, but I also referred to Elyse's recipe at Simply Recipes and some posts on the web. I read several posts on a message board about cooking apple butter in the oven (after the initial 20 minute cooking). This resulted in a gorgeously dark and rich apple butter.

By the way, you can use several different kinds of apples, particularly those that you would use for a pie, crisp or baking. Stay away from Golden or Red Delicious.

Apple Butter

2-3 pounds apples, peeled and cored and sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
zest and juice of one lemon
1-3 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves

Place the apples, vinegar, water, lemon juice and zest in a large oven-proof pot. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour the cooked apples into a blender or food processor and blend until well pureed.
Return the pureed apples to the pot, measuring as you go. For every cup of blended apples that you have, add 1/2 cup brown sugar.* Add the spices to the pot. Cover the pot and put the whole thing in the oven. Cook for 2-3 hours at 300 degrees, stirring every half hour. When you stir the pot, taste for sugar and spices; you may want to add more depending on your preferences.

Store in the refrigerator, or seal in canning jars to store for months (or years) in your pantry, give away for Christmas gifts, etc. If you're not familiar with canning process, The Pioneer Woman gives step-by-step instructions here.

*You might want to go easy on the sugar to begin; you can always add sugar as you go.

Oh, and "thank you" to our kind neighbors, for sharing your apples.

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jane said...

i just found your blog- what fun!
i am going to take the kiddos apple picking with great hope of yummy homemade apple butter... i think i will use your recipe!
hope you are doing well-

Wendy said...

Loving your blog! Just went apple picking with my kids and I am going to try your recipe this afternoon :) Thanks for sharing!

Barefoot Belle said...

Jane, welcome! Have fun apple picking. I look forward to going sometime this fall.

Wendy, please let me know how it turns out!

Wendy said...

Delicious! I'm from Montreal, and I've never heard of Apple Butter, so I had no idea what to expect. I only had 2 cups of brown sugar, but went ahead and made it! We love it :) Thanks for introducing us to something new that we can find all the ingredients to in Budapest (where we now live)! Just translated the recipe to send it out to my french-canadian grandma, this is right up her alley, she'll love it!