AppleJack and me have been making AppleButter--three dozen half pints and counting! The last of the apples were peeled, cored, cooked and canned this morning. Making AppleButter is one of our favorite fall activities. It begins with a trip to one of the local apple orchards and selecting just the right variety of apple. Grandmother Bessie selected what she called a cooking apple--tart and firm. Her apple variety of choice was a Winesap, AppleJack's variety of choice is an Arkansas Black, I'm happy with either one.
My recipe for making AppleButter comes from a publication from the Agricultural Extension Service of The University of Tennessee/Knoxville first printed in June 1914 and reprinted in 1981. Yes, it has been around a few years and is tried and proven true.
- Wash fruit, remove stems and blossom ends and cut in quarters. Add one third to one half as much water as fruit. Cook apples until soft. Put through a colander, food mill or sieve.
- Combine pulp with sugar, using 2 cups pulp to 1 cup sugar. Add spices as desired. Cook mixture slowly, stirring frequently until thick--about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Pour hot apple mixture into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Adjust caps and process in boiling water bath. Pint size jars should stay in the hot water bath for ten minutes.
Making AppleButter was also one of Grandmother Bessie's favorite things to do. AppleButter was made in the fall of the year in the mountains, the temperatures would have been cool. Making AppleButter was a community activity--the women gathered together, brought a pot luck dish to share for lunch, worked together and shared their bounty. I cook my AppleButter in the stove, Grandmother Bessie and her community built a fire and cooked the AppleButter in a huge iron kettle! Cooking and stirring the apple mixture was an all day job and I am sure it gave the women an opportunity to visit. Grandmother Bessie and Great Grandmother Sarah Miranda liked their AppleButter thick--"it has been cooked enough when it will stand a spoon" declared Sarah Miranda. We don't cook ours this long--long enough to spread on a piece of toast or biscuit is long enough for us.
We share the AppleButter with neighbors and friends. It is given as gifts at Christmas time, stitch ins, and hostess gifts. If we ate all the AppleButter we have made we would look like Porky Pig!