If you’re not making apple butter, you’re doing something wrong.
Growing up in North Georgia, I was conditioned from an early age to view apple season like I view Christmas, as something sacred. Nothing’s changed. When a bounty of apples presented itself, we would go to work peeling, dicing, boiling, mashing, mixing, simmering, and canning our favorite spread. Back then apple butter was for biscuits on Saturday mornings or a quick piece of toast during the week, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that this stuff belongs on more than just bread. I serve apple butter with cheese and crackers for friends who come over for dinner. I slather it on top of the cinnamon pancakes I make for my niece. And I spoon some into Greek yogurt with granola for an afternoon snack.
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Making Apple Butter
As far as equipment goes, all you need is a 6-quart pot, a vegetable peeler, a knife, and a food mill. (Food mills are inexpensive and are also used to make soups, mashed potatoes, and preserves.)
For 2 quarts of apple butter: Peel, core, and dice your apples until you have filled a 6-quart pot (roughly 24 cups of diced apples). Add 1 1/2 cups of apple cider and cook over medium-high until the apple pieces are tender, 25-35 minutes. Once tender, remove from heat and allow to cool until the contents of the pot can be handled. Pass the apple pieces through the food mill. Return the milled apple puree to the pot and add 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger. Stir and place the pot over medium, stirring occasionally until the butter has thickened, about 15 minutes.
This apple butter should be canned or frozen until ready to use. For another delicious variation, follow the method above and use pears instead of apples for a pear butter that is equally worth celebrating.