Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Apple 'Butter'

This post is a lie, an untruth, a complete fallacy. But I refuse to make an apology. Why should I? I admit, I’m fully aware that my apple butter contains absolutely no butter whatsoever. I’m lactose intolerant – why would I want to contaminate something as good as this?

These apples are so thick, so creamy, and so buttery that they justify the name. Think lemon curd without the eggs, or jam without the sugar. This is concentrated fruit flavour, in the easiest possible way. And now that apples are coming into season, it’s a great way to use them. These were only €1.40 per kilo from the Dom Markt, and they were crisp and tart. This is like applesauce, but so much better.

And, in my obsessive-compulsive way, I couldn’t bear to throw out the peels and cores: I made an apple syrup at the same time. So really, this is two recipes in one, but if you’re not a syrup person (do people like that exist?) then feel free to simply cook the apples.

I recommend that while you’re preparing the apples, you sit them in a big tub of acidulated water. You can add the juice of a lemon or two in order to keep the apples from browning, or a scant ¼ cup of white or cider vinegar. It won’t affect the flavour.

I pressed my apples against the strainer using a spoon, which meant that my syrup isn’t perfectly clear, but that my apples are extra thick and creamy. It’s up to your personal preference. Allow the apples to cool in the strainer before you press them, to make an even thicker butter.

Apple butter is fantastic slathered on scones, toast or fruit loaf – anywhere you’d like to use jam, really. It has minimal sugar, so it’s a healthy alternative to other fruit jams, and it’s also fantastic swirled through yoghurt and scattered with oats. Or even straight from the jar… not that I’ve tried it, of course.

Apple Butter

2kg apples, peeled and cubed* (variety of your choice – I recommend tart apples!)
1/3 cup raw sugar
lemon juice to taste
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

If you’re making the syrup, simmer the peels and cores in barely enough water to cover until they’re soft – about 20 minutes. Reserve the liquid and compost or discard the apple remnants.
Simmer the apple pieces in the reserved apple stock, adding enough water to barely cover. (If you’re not making the syrup, just simmer the apples in plain water). Add the sugar and cinnamon. Cook until the apples are soft but not mush – mine took about 30 minutes.
Remove the apples from the liquid, and strain, pressing to remove extra liquid, if desired.
Blend the apples, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Jar as required and allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator.

For the apple syrup, reduce the remaining syrup until it’s thick enough to pour over a good waffle. ;)

*This was a dozen medium-large apples for me. I simply peeled them, cut them into quarters, took out the cores, and cut the cored quarters in half. The larger the pieces are, the less water they’ll absorb, but the longer they’ll take to cook. It’s your call.

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