30 Days of Blogging: Favorite Seasons

fallI realize I’ve been a bit lax on my 30 Days of Blogging, and even though it’s 2015, I’m bound and determined to finish what I started!  I only have a few left, so everyone should just hang in there with me.

My favorite season is fall.  Part of that is because my birthday is in September, but also because it kicks off the trifecta of my favorite holidays:  Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!  Fall has amazing colors, great produce, awesome recipes, and three holidays where the whole point is dressing up, eating awesome food, drinking fabulous concoctions, and exchanging presents with friends and family.  What is there to hate about that?!

Much love,
K.

Recipe Monday: Apple Butter, a Fall Favorite!

Riding high on the success of my honey sweetened white peach jam, I decided to do some more canning.  Only this time, I went with a fall favorite, apple butter!  J and I both love apple butter.  We use it often times in place of jams or preserves, and I usually mix it into my oatmeal during the winter.  Plus, most of the time, it has a lot less sugar than preserves, and fewer calories, but still tons of flavor.  Also, if you look at the ingredients, it’s usually only apples, water, and sugar.  Pretty simple, and I can pronounce and understand all these ingredients, so I call it a good day!

home preserving bookI decided to modify a recipe out of the Ball Home Preserving book.  They have a few different recipes in there for apple butter, and their main recipe calls for apple cider.  I took their traditional apple butter, but instead of the sugar that it suggested, I sweetened it with honey.  I prefer the taste of honey as a sweetener, over sugar, plus there’s a lot less processing going on with the honey.  I also made a half-batch, as compared to a full batch, because I didn’t want to have a ton of it lying around (because, let’s be honest, I’ll just eat it with a spoon).

apples_slicedI started with Honeycrisp apples, because they’re absolutely delicious.  Plus, they’re enormous, so I don’t have to peel as many apples as I would if I used the smaller ones.  Then, I cored and sliced up the apples, before putting them in a skillet with water to cook down.  This process took awhile…maybe 30 minutes.  I gave it a stir every now and then, and spent the time working on a homemade Spanakopita for dinner (next week I’ll tell you all about that recipe…divine!).  Really, at this point, you’re just waiting for the apples to cook down and get soft, so not much effort goes into this step.

food processor applesAfter you’ve cooked down the apples, you can either use an immersion blender to blend them up, or if you’re like me and don’t have one, you can put them in the food processor.  Do this in batches if you’ve got a lot…since I had a half-batch, I only needed to break it up into two batches for the food processor.  You don’t want to liquefy the apples, but do break them up until they’re smooth.  That said…this is YOUR apple butter…if you like it chunkier and less “buttery” then you go ahead and process to your desired texture.  “You do you, boo!” is my motto.

Once you’re done blending/processing to the texture you want, put it back into a clean skillet.  I don’t have many skillets big enough, so I just washed and dried the one I already used, and put it back in there.  Add the honey and spices, and bring up to a gentle boil.  Now, listen to me, because this is important.  If you have a canned apple buttersplash guard, USE IT HERE!  Nothing says 2nd degree burns like being splashed with boiling applesauce.  It’s not fun, save yourself the pain.  You’ll want to reduce down the apple/honey/spice mixture until it’s thick and doesn’t separate from the liquid when you place a spoonful of it on a plate.  I did this for nearly an hour, because I wanted the apple butter to be very concentrated.

After that…can as normal!  I got 2 half-pint jars out of this recipe.  I probably could have gotten 3 jars out of it, but I wanted some of the apple butter immediately, so I didn’t bother canning the last bit.  I’m really excited to bring this out this fall and use it in the mornings.  Plus, I think I’ll can up some more to give away as presents for Christmas (along with the Peach Jam I made last week).  Who doesn’t love food presents?!

Much love,
K.