Apple Butter (Daring Cooks Challenge September 2010)

Apple, squash & pear butter

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

spread on homemade blinis

I made two types of apple butter – with rhubarb & date, and with squash & pear. I didn’t have any canning equipment so I used jam jars and freezing. I used apples harvested from the ‘communal garden’ at the end of my street, a patch of disused land where drunks hang out beneath an impressive apple tree. I thought I would be resourceful instead of letting the apples turn into mush.

I also picked up a squash dumpling from Taunton (Somerset) whichwas more like a greeny yellow pumpkin. Admittedly I bought it because of the name…it made delicious jam though! The rhubarb was from my mum’s garden, she has a forest of it which I find quite sinister. I intoxicated myself with the fumes from boiling up rhubarb leaves when I was extracting the pigment to dye some fabric – not at all worth it for the resulting shade of piss. Felt sick for days. Anyway, I digress. I love this rhubarb date apple butter, it’s tangy, sweet and good for you.

Rhubarb date apple butter spread on home made english muffin

Rhubarb apple butter recipe click here

Confettura di zucca per l’inverno (squash butter) recipe click here

Apple Butter
Reduced Sugar Apple Butter from The National Center for Home Food Preservation – [http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_02/apple_butter_reduced.html]

Note:
For making apple butter, I do not have a food mill. The first time I made this recipe, I used apples with the stem and blossom end removed. I pressed the soft cooked apples through a mesh strainer. The resulting apple butter yield was barely 3 cups. Therefore, I recommend using peeled and cored apples to yield 5 to 6 cups of apple butter.

Preparation time:
– Apple Butter
Preparing Apples: 10 Minutes (if you leave the skin on)
20 Minutes if you peel and core apples
Cooking: 20-30 Minutes to soften apples for mashing + 2 hours to make Apple Butter.
Boiling Water Canner: 40 Minutes

– Roasted Tomatoes
Preparation: 10 Minutes
Cooking: 1 Hour

– Bruschetta in a Jar
Preparation: 15-30 minutes
Canning: 30 Minutes

Equipment required:
Apple Butter
• Knife
• Measuring Cup
• Measuring Spoons
• 8 Quart (about 7½ litres) Sauce Pan or Pot
• Potato Masher
• Storage Container/Containers to hold 5 to 6 cups
Optional:
o Scale
o Vegetable Peeler
o Food Mill
o Freezer Bags/Containers
o Boiling Water Canner
– Pot with Lid
– Rack
– Jars with lids and bands
– Bubble Remover (can use small spatula or plastic knife)
– Wide Mouth Funnel

Recipes: Reduced Sugar Apple Butter Recipe
Recipe Source: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_02/apple_butter_reduced.html
My preference is to use sweet apples (Golden Delicious) so the need for sugar is reduced. However, tart apples (Granny Smith) can be used. It’s a matter of personal preference.

Recipe: Reduced Sugar Apple Butter
Ingredient U.S. Metric Count Special Instructions
Apples 4lbs* 1.8 kg 12 Apples Cut into eights, stem and blossome end removed
Apple Cider 1 Cup 240 ml Optional: Water or Juice
Sucralose/Splenda 1/2 Cup 120 ml Optional: Honey, Agave or Sugar – to taste
Cinnamon, Ground 1 Tbl 15 ml
Allspice, Ground 1/2 tsp 3 ml
Cloves, Ground 1/4 tsp 2 ml

Note: * If you used peeled and cored apples. I recommend buying 5 lbs (2.26 kg) of apples.

Directions:
1. Wash apples well and remove stems. Cut apples into quarters or eighths and remove cores.

Note: I ended up peeling the apple at this step.

2. Combine unpeeled apples and cider in 8-quart (about 7 ½ litre) saucepan. Cook slowly and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until apples are very soft (falling apart).

3. Position a food mill or strainer securely over a large bowl. Press cooked apples with cider through the food mill or strainer to make a pulp. Be sure to collect all the pulp that comes through the food mill or strainer; for example, scrape any pulp clinging under the food mill into the bowl.

Note: Since the apples were peeled, I just mashed in the pot.

4. Combine pulp with Sucralose and spices in an 8-quart (about 7 ½ litre) saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently.

Note: A stick blender was used to mix the spices and creates a smoother apple butter. Also, when cooking down the apples, you want to leave the lid ajar or use a splatter screen. This will allow for evaporation. Another trick is to support the lid by laying two wooden spoons across the top of the pot.

5. To test for doneness, spoon a small quantity onto a clean plate; when the butter mounds on the plate without liquid separating around the edge of the butter, it is ready for processing. Another way to test for doneness is to remove a spoonful of the cooked butter on a spoon and hold it away from steam for 2 minutes. It is done if the butter remains mounded on the spoon.

Note: It may be difficult to see, but the sample on the left is the apples sauce from step 3. The apple sauce left a liquid ring while the apple butter did not.

6. Pour contents into desired storage container or multiple containers. I stored my apple butter in 1-cup (250ml) plastic containers with screw on tops. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks, freeze up to a year, and home canning is good for a year.

* The Finished Apple Butter:
Apple Butter is often used as a spread. However, apple butter can also be used as a condiment (pork chops or in marinades) or as an ingredient to an apple quick bread.

* Freezing:
I used a freezer bag where I expelled as much air as possible and minimized the gaps in the bag. Freezer bags work well for storage since they can lay flatter in the freezer than containers.

With a container, you need to ensure you have “headspace”. Headspace is the gap between the food (or liquid level) and the top of the container. Typical, headspace when freezing foods is 1/2 “ (1.27 cm) for straight sided containers. As mentioned previously, water expands when freezing. The headspace allows room for expansion.

Thawing: The best method (Food Safety) is to thaw in the refrigerator for a day.
Cold water, 70ºF (21ºC) or lower, can be used for as quicker way to defrost. The frozen food is submerged under running water. An alternative to running water is to change the water every 30 minutes. If you need an even faster method to defrost and you plan to cook the food immediately, the microwave is another method (of last resort).

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3 responses to “Apple Butter (Daring Cooks Challenge September 2010)

  1. Oh no! I’m glad you’ve gotten over your rhubarb-induced illness. 😦

    The combinations of produce that you came up with seem wild and interesting and really adventurous. But they also make a lot of sense, and I think they sound quite good indeed.

  2. As always your introduction is hilarious. Both the the jams are really good. I’m glad you put the rhubarb to better use this time.

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