February 4, 2011

Apple Butter

This is the best apple butter I've tried! We always use seconds and make several batches for gift giving.

4-1/2 pounds tart cooking apples (about 14 medium)
4 cups apple cider or apple juice
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Wash, core, and quarter apples. In a large (10-quart) Dutch oven or kettle, combine apples and cider. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until very tender. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Place a food mill over a large bowl. Ladle the cooked apples along with the cooking liquid into the mill and press the mixture into the bowl. If you don't have a mill, place a large sieve over a large bowl. Use the back of a spoon to press the mixture into the bowl. Now measure 9-1/2 cups of this mixture. If you have leftover apple mixture, simply chill and serve as applesauce. Return the 9-1/2 cups of the mixture to the kettle. Stir in the sugar and spices. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat. Cook, uncovered, over very low heat, about 1-1/2 hours or until the mixture is very thick. (Every time I've made this, I've cooked it at least 4 hours to get it to a proper consistency, but it makes your house smell great!) It should be like a very thick, dark applesauce. Stir often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. To fill the jars, place a wide-mouth plastic funnel in a hot, clean jar. Ladle the apple butter into the hot jar, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove the funnel; wipe the jar rim with a clean, damp towel. Position the prepared lid and screw band on the jar and tighten according to the manufacturer's directions. Place each jar into boiling water in water bath canner as it is filled. Be sure they don't touch one another. Cover the canner. Wait for reboil and then process for 10 minutes for pints, 5 minutes for half-pints. Any jars that do not seal can be refrigerated; sealed jars can be kept for up to a year. Great on english muffin toast!

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