8 cups peeeled, diced (I used Jonagold) apples (about 10-12 medium apples)
12 oz fresh cranberries
1 large cinnamon stick
3/4 cup water or apple cider
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 2-inch knob fresh ginger
Place all ingredients in a large heavy-bottomed pot (I used a 5-quart cast-iron enameled braiser). Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally and uncovered, until the apples are very tender and falling apart.
Remove and discard the ginger and cinnamon stick. The ginger should be easy to find because unlike the apples, it should still be firm. Blend, using an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender until very smooth, carefully as the apple mixture will be very hot and sticky. If the mixture is not at apple butter consistency, return to heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until it reaches the proper thickness.
When it is proper thickness, pour into clean, sterlized jars and cool completely and refrigerate up to 3 weeks or ladle when warm into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace and process in a hot water canner for 10 minutes.
Yield: about 5 8-oz jars
Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is an Amazon list of my favorite products for canning, including the Blue Book. (I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites to help off-set the cost associated with running this blog.)
I’ve made a few batches of apple butter over the years but only in the slow cooker, not the stove top. We like to go to the Berkeley Springs Apple Butter Festival where they make the apple butter in the town square over a wood fire (although we normally buy it from the cheaper place around the corner that makes in over a wood fire in a parking lot– not as picturesque but a buck’s a buck and I figure they can use the business) but we didn’t make the trip this year. I almost didn’t make apple butter this year either but Matt bought like a bushel of apples last month to take a to an event and we ended up with a ton of apples leftover. They’ve been sitting in cold storage (aka my enclosed, uninsulated porch) until today when I thought I’d finally make something with them.
Since it is now December and I am over the whole faking I am excited about fall thing, I thought I’d make a slightly more festive and seasonally appropriate apple butter by adding a ton of spices and cranberries. This takes it right into winter, right? I’m planning to give these out to friends and family right now so I didn’t bother canning them but if you want to give them out as gifts (and you should! only fools wouldn’t love a jar of this sweet-tart spicy goodness) please can it to make it shelf-stable. Don’t give the gift of botulisum this Christmas (or Hanukkah!). The cran-apple butter is just as creamy as the regular but with just a hint of tartness from the cranberries that really takes it to the next level.
Try using the apple butter in one of these recipes.