Apple Butter —SCB


7september05

We are somewhere between summer and fall. The days are still hot and bright, but the light at the beginnings and ends tells another story. I have been feeling a little melancholy, maybe it’s just this change, having a foot in each season and way of life. I have not felt much like eating or been particularly inspired to cook, which is a shame as the harvest is pretty bountiful around here.

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I have mostly wanted to snack, standing at the counter, as if I am denying a meal is really taking place. It feels like a particular hardship to cook for others when you don’t have an appetite, but I have found myself transformed when I sit down to a meal with my family, always grateful I pushed through. That said, when my son proudly brought home a bag of bruised, wormy apples from a neighbor, I wanted nothing more than to just toss them in the compost. I was hard-pressed to see their potential.

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I stared down the apples and my own exhaustion/ennui and settled on apple butter. Brown bits were trimmed away and the apples simmered for hours and hours into something new, sweet and spicy, dense with flavor. I don’t mean for these apples to be a tortured metaphor.  I mean only to share that sometimes there is value in doing the work that is set in front of you, and that apple butter is delicious.

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Apple Butter
makes approximately 1 pint

2-3 pounds apples, cored and chopped (but not peeled)
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple juice, cider or water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
zest and juice of one small lemon
1/2-1 cup sugar

Place apples in a heavy bottomed sauce pan with apple cider vinegar and juice and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover loosely and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes. Allow apples to cool slightly and pass through a fine food mill to remove skins. Place apple sauce in a slow cooker (you can also return the apples to the stove in a pot, but as they will be cooking for 8 hours, a slow cooker is best. They are easily found secondhand or borrow one from a friend!). Add spices, lemon juice and zest. The amount of sugar you will need depends on the tartness of your apples and your own taste preference. Start with 1/2 cup and taste as it cooks, adding sweetness as needed. Cook on low, stirring, and scraping the bottom every now and again for about 8 hours. Apple butter will be dark and thick. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator.

I enjoyed my apple butter with cheese on oatcakes (recipe in 3191Q Issue No. 9, coming very soon as a digital download), standing at the counter, of course.

7september06

—SCB