Making apple buttter is not difficult, but it takes TIME!!! This isn't something you can hurry through. You really need the better part of a day from start to finish. But oh, my is it ever worth it!!
I started with just over 13 pounds of Jonathan apples.
Then I washed and peeled the apples, and sliced them using my Pampered Chef slicer. I tried using the Pampered Chef slicer first and then peeling . . . but I didn't think it worked as well. But you can do whatever works best for you. Just peel all of the apples, take out the core, slice them up and throw them in a large pan on about medium heat.
This is the apples when they first started cooking.
And here, they've started to cook down a little bit.
This pictures was after about 45 minutes of cooking. You want the apples to be very soft.
Because, you're going to run them through this colander.
You can use whatever method you prefer. I have a food mill, but frankly couldn't find it. (Hey, I gotta be honest!) So I used this old colander. If you have an electric food grinder, I think that would work too. You want the apples to be about the consistency of apple sauce once you run it through the food mill, or colander or grinder. This is the most time consuming part of the process to me. So I think I will probably look into some faster (i.e. electric) method of processing the apples next time I make apple butter.
Here are the apples after running them through the colander.
To this you add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (regular vinegar will work just fine) and 5 pounds of sugar. Yes, I said 5 pounds of sugar. This is NOT a low calorie recipe!! But the sugar acts as the "preservative" for the apple buttter. And definitely is a big part of the flavor!
Stir the vinegar and sugar into the apples and put it in the oven at 325 degrees for 5 hours. You will need to stir the mixture about once an hour.
Here is the apple butter after an hour or so.
And here it is a couple of hours later. Look at that beautiful color. The apple butter will get darker, and thicker, the longer it cooks. Which just makes it taste better!!
This is after 5 hours of cooking. See how beautiful that looks. And oh my you can't IMAGINE how my kitchen smelled!!!
Now, add 1/4 cup of "red hots" or as the store calls them now "cinnamon imperials." Frankly I just used the whole package, which was nearly 1/2 cup.
After you add the red hots, stir everything again, and put it back in the oven for one more hour
See that delicious apple butter and the little pieces of red hots? Those will completely melt into the apple butter over the next hour.
Now doesn't that just look DELICIOUS???? Seriously, if you have never made homemade apple butter I would encourage you to give it a whirl. As I said, it is NOT difficult, but it does take some time. But when you spread that apple butter over a piece of toast, or onto an English muffin, YUM YUM YUM. You will KNOW it was worth every single second of your time!!!
Again, being totally honest, it was very late when I finished putting the apple butter into the jars (it made 17 half-pints), and I completely forgot to take pictures. I processed my jars in a water bath
for 10 minutes and then let them cool. The jars just look beautiful on the shelf, and I've already sampled the apple butter. Delicious!!! So go buy yourself some apples and give homemade apple butter a try. I think you will be glad you did!!!