A reader put in a special request for food gifts you can make yourself and give to others. We got you covered. I will be doing a few of these, so stay tuned.
Apple butter is so easy to make and the rewards and applications are endless. Of course, toast comes to mind right away, but it's also good swirled into oatmeal and added to cake batters or ice creams. We picked these apples at Phillips Farm in Milford, but you can buy seconds easily from any orchard near you or, failing that, use supermarket apples, but they won't be nearly as good as fresh and local ones. Promise. It keeps if you process it, which I did, making for an excellent food gift for friends, teachers, coaches, parents, you name it.
I've adapted this recipe from the September/October issue of Eating Well. Do you know this magazine? If not, you should. It's pretty lovely. I used a great chai mix from Indian as Apple Pie; if you don't have a blend of your own, it's easy to put together on your own by following the original recipe from Eating Well. You might add a dash of ginger, which isn't typically traditional with the chai profile, but complements the other warming spices well.
The original recipe doesn't call for processing it in a water bath, which is what I did, and doesn't indicate how long it will last. I wanted to have a handful of processed half-pint jars on hand. So, for my purposes, I've doubled it and changed the profile and ingredients a bit.
- 7 1/2 pound apples
- 1 T. Chai spice mix
- 1 T. cinnamon
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 T. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup apple cider
Combine all ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker and stir it together to evenly distribute the ingredients. Cook on high for about 4-5 hours, stopping if necessary to add a little more cider if the mix looks dry or mash up with a potato masher (like I did) to help the apples break down.
Continue cooking for another couple of hours until the apples have cooked down, the flavor has concentrated and the mixture looks mostly smooth.
Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade and pulse until completely smooth.
Fill the clean, hot jars with apple butter, and process as usual, using the water bath canning method. Not sure how? My friend Marisa at Food In Jars explains the basics.
Yield: About 7 half-pint containers