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Cider Apple Butter
(recipe, Pam Corbin)
Autumn is the season for apples. For centuries, the apple crop has been important, and the apple tree cherished and celebrated for its fruit. Wassailing is an English West Country tradition when, on Twelfth Night of old (January 17), country folk toast and drink to the health of the largest and most prolific apple tree in the orchard for a healthy, fruitful crop the coming season.
The sharp and bittersweet qualities of cider give this old-fashioned apple butter a special flavor. It's a sensational fruity spread to daub over hot buttered toast or crumpets.
This recipe yields four to five 8-ounce jars of apple butter.
- 3 pounds, 6 ounces cooking apples
- 2½ cups dry or medium cider
- Granulated sugar
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- There is no need to peel or core the apples. However, if you are using windfalls (and this is a very good recipe in which to do so), cut away any damaged or bruised bits. Chop the apples into fairly big pieces (each into about 8). Place in a large pan with the cider and 2½ cups of water. Cook gently until soft, then remove from the heat.
- Push the apple mixture through a sieve or use a food mill to reduce it to a purée. Measure the volume of fruit pulp and return it to the cleaned-out pan, adding ⅔ cup of sugar for every cup of fruit pulp. Add the cloves and cinnamon. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then boil rapidly for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture begins to splutter and is thick and creamy.
- Remove from the heat and pour immediately into warm, sterilized jars (it's best to use small jars, as this low-sugar preserve has a relatively short shelf life once opened), then seal immediately in a boiling-water bath. Use within one year, and store in the fridge once opened.