As much as I love apples and apple butter, this is only the second time I'm ever made it. The last time was a year or two ago, when I used the recipe from the Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving. My main gripe with that recipe, though, is that it's all done on the stove, and you have to stir almost constantly while it cooked, lest it burn. It took almost an hour to cook down! My arms fell off...both of 'em! And if your stopped stirring, you were brought back to attention with a searing hot splatter of apple butter to the face. If that wasn't enough you were also instructed to use a food mill to puree the apples and remove the skins, thus took another hour. Then there was the matter of the spices, the USDA's recipe instructs you use a mouth-numbing 1 tbsp of ground cloves. Now, I like my apple butter spicy, but this was just ridiculous!
For these reasons, I went about searching for a similar, though easier, method of making apple butter, and one that used less sugar, too. I wanted an apple butter that was easy, tasty, and erring on the healthier side. And I think I found it.
I consulted many a recipe and combined the elements from each I liked, not the least of which is the fact that it's baked, so you don't have to worry about it scorching, and you only have to give 'er a stir every half-hour.
Baked Apple Butter
4 large Granny Smith apples
4 large Breaburn apples
1 cup unsweetened Apple Juice
1 cup Brown Sugar (or other sweetener)
2 (generous) tsp. ground Cinnamon
1/2 (generous) tsp. ground Cloves
1/4 (generous) tsp. ground Allspice
The ground up seeds of one large Green Cardamom Pod
Generous pinch of Salt
Core and cut the apples into chunks, but leave the skin on. Put apples and apple juice into a large sauce pan and boil over medium heat for 30 minutes.
Set oven to 275°F.
Using a stick blender, blend the apples and skins until smooth. You can also use a food processor or blender, working in batches.
Add the sugar , cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom and salt. Stir to mix well. Pour into a 13x9 inch baking dish, and bake for 3 hours, stirring every half-hour, or until the butter reaches the consistency you like.
- Feel free to use any kind apples you like, in this recipe, it's plenty flexible. I just happened to like the looks of the Granny Smiths and Braeburns today.
- If you can get apple cider, that would work great too. Cider is just yet to make an appearance around here, as yet.
- You can use white sugar, brown sugar, honey, or a sugar substitute. Just aim for a cup's worth. I didn't have enough brown sugar, so I topped it off with the Baker's Blend sugar substitute.
- Don't feel that you must use the cardamom, I know it can be hard to find, for some. I just love the warm, floral taste of the stuff so much...how could I not add it in? ^_^
- Next time, I'll probably add in some lime juice to lend a bit of acidity to the butter, to brighten it up a tad.
- This recipe is not meant to be processed and "put up," so be sure to keep it refrigerated.