Apple Buttery Goodness
September 18, 2011 9:34 PM   Subscribe

It's getting to be That Time of Year again, and this time I'm geeking out well in advance with canning. I've got the techniques down, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't have questions, now would I? Specifically, I'm looking for recipes.

I'd like to do a jam, an apple butter, and a mustard. Jam? All set. Mustard? I'm experimenting, and it's turning out well so far. However, I'm having difficulty gauging what a good apple butter recipe looks like, perhaps because apple butter just isn't my thing. I've looked through AskMe and various websites. Unfortunately, that didn't really work and now I'm just asking you to give me your absolute best apple butter recipe as this is somewhat time sensitive - I'd like to get the apples processed while they're in season. I'd also like to request suggestions for a good name as well; in the past, I've given things rather silly "x-treme" names like Triple Berry Threat, Awesome Sauce, and the like. But for an apple-based product? I got nothin'.

Barring that, I'm also interested in things that I should be making that you'd be thrilled to receive. Bonus points for things that ship well and/or don't leave much behind once they've been used.
posted by daikaisho to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Can't help you with the apple butter, but my aunt sends me homemade caramel sauce in a Mason jar every fall, and it's the best thing ever. Especially on ice cream or apple pie, mmmm....
posted by OLechat at 9:52 PM on September 18, 2011

For apple butter, I suggest naming it 'Original Sin' then the date of canning and nothing more.

My business partner's husband was very interested in apple cider when they planted their land with more than a dozen apple varieties 20 years ago, so they put in something like four different kinds of crab apples, the sourest and most intensely flavored cultivars their consultants could come up with, and those have turned out to make the best apple jelly I have tasted so far.
posted by jamjam at 10:08 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here's one from the gal who does Food in Jars, which is a (the?) great canning blog.
posted by gwint at 11:31 PM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Please don't fool around with untested recipes. The quickest tested recipe I have on hand is for sweet apple cider butter from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. Last time my husband and I made it, the apple butter was still runny at 7 p.m., so we put it in a crock pot overnight and let it simmer down a little bit--woke up to thicker product, and it didn't take long to bring it up to temperature for canning.

jamjam's "Original Sin" idea is fantastic.

My kids are big fans of homemade chocolate sauce, home-canned applesauce, and our tomato soup. Personally, I want a friend who will send me homemade Nutella.

Punk Domestics (found via Methyl Violet? Or some other awesome MeFite) has some VERY interesting-looking canning projects.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:20 AM on September 19, 2011

Ack, it was, of course, The Violet Cypher, in a good thread about jams.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:09 AM on September 19, 2011

I've made apple butter a couple of times to rave reviews, and didn't do a whole lot to it. The secret seems to be cooking it FOREVER, and using a bunch of different apple varieties. The less impressive ones I've had were more on the sauce end of the apple-product spectrum. I fill my crockpot with apples, let it cook overnight, add more uncooked apples in the morning until the crockpot is full again, and then let it sit another 12-24 hours. Stir occasionally, and put a chopstick under the lid for the steam.

I took flavoring inspiration from apple pie--cinnamon, nutmeg, a little clove, very little maple syrup. A little lemon juice on one occasion. I tasted and adjusted just prior to canning.

I made a little label saying "No butter was harmed in the making of this product", with a couple of happy sticks of butter holding hands and skipping, with a few grouchy apples crossing their arms and scowling at them. I like "Original Sin".
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:08 AM on September 19, 2011

Best ever: crockpot ginger apple butter. Layer sliced peeled apples in crockpot with an occasional handful of brown sugar and top with sliced peeled ginger coins. Apples don't need to be sliced very thinly. Cook on low all day. Top with more apples as it cooks down and stir occasionally when things break down. When it's dark and completely soft, whir with immersion blender or run through food processor. Apples are a high acid food, so you can can this one.
posted by purenitrous at 9:27 AM on September 19, 2011

Sorry, posted too soon. Ball calls for 10 minutes processing time for apple butter, and they add no acid so you're safe here. The ginger adds an amazing zing to this-people love it. Friend eats it with yogurt and granola for breakfast daily.
posted by purenitrous at 9:30 AM on September 19, 2011

I like apple butter with unexpected spices—I put up a few jars with ginger, cardamom, and star anise last year, and it is pretty much the best thing in the entire world. It has the same warm spiciness of apple pie, so it's not off-putting for timid eaters—but it's so unexpected and wonderful once you pay attention.

Things required for apple butter: 1) several different varieties of apple; 2) cooking with skins and peels on and milling them out later (deeper apple flavor, less waste); 3) a splatter screen; 4) time and a very heavy-bottomed pot.

Other minimal-waste preserves:

- plums in honey. Whole plums in a jar; top up with one part honey to three parts water, boiling. I like to slip a sprig of rosemary in, too. Process for 15 minutes/pint.

- whole canned tomatoes, and then barbeque sauce or good ketchup from the cores and peels. If you cook the cores and peels long enough and go at 'em with an immersion blender, you'll end up with a great sauce with concentrated tomato flavor and a lot of body.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:26 AM on September 19, 2011

There's a lot of good advice about apple butter (and many other things) on the Gardenweb Harvest Forum. Here's a thread with some apple butter recipes.

The forum is really helpful for beginners. There are some master preservers who chime in frequently, as well as some other folks with decades of experience. They're always ready to give advice, and they also won't hesitate to tell you if you've done something that will result in the botulism deaths of your entire family.

As you start canning more, I'd recommend reading the forum regularly. I've personally learned a lot from it.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:36 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Smitten Kitchen: Peach Butter btw, the Red Wine Chocolate Cake looks very try-able.

Colman's Mustard Recipes
posted by JABof72 at 6:15 PM on September 19, 2011

Sorry. Missed the Previous
posted by JABof72 at 6:19 PM on September 19, 2011

Aww, Food in Jars is written by a friend of mine. Highly recommended.

I've made a bunch of fruit butters, and yeah, crockpots are amazing -- leave the lid ajar to let moisture escape) and cook them way longer than you'd expect. On low. Last year, dead-ripe very juicy peaches took probably 24 hours.

You don't have to make them very sweet, but do yourself a favor and use a decent amount of sugar, as it has preservative properties, plus acid for the same reason.
posted by desuetude at 11:53 PM on September 19, 2011

Wow, y'all are awesome. I'm going to have a lot of experimentation to do! (Caramel sauce in particular...) And thanks for the name too; it seems so obvious in retrospect, but it's totally perfect. Thanks all!
posted by daikaisho at 11:01 PM on September 20, 2011

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