It’s time to talk about apples.
It’s already spring here in Australia but there are still some lovely apples to be had and I urge you, before it’s too late, to make this delectable condiment before it’s too hot to have the stove on for five hours.
Ok, I’m kidding (I’m not kidding)(I’m kidding )(I’m totally not kidding) but this apple butter really is a most incredible substance. It takes some time on the stove, but apart from cutting up the apples, there’s not much effort put in and it is a fantastic outcome. It tastes like liquid gold.
It tastes like the nectar of the sweetest flowers of the field.
It tastes like curling up in front of the fire at sunset.
It tastes like autumn.
And I’m on the wrong end of it! But if you want to taste autumn through the spring, or perhaps where you live the frost is only just starting to ice the edges of your vision and the fairies are beginning to paint the leaves in sunset colours. Make this as a last hurrah, make it as a celebration, make it for no reason but that first bite on crusty bread with butter butter and a mug of tea.
Adapted from BraveTart
1.5 kilos apples of different varieties, peels on, cored and chopped*
250g dried apple rings**
3.7 lt apple cider***
optional: 120ml applejack****
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
1 cinnamon stick (about five centimetres long)*****
Place apples, dried apples, cider, applejack (if using) and vanilla bean pods (not the scraped insides yet) in a large stockpot and set the pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to medium low and leave, covered, for the liquid to reduce by half or more. Stir occasionally.
The apples should seem to be swimming in a very thick goo (like the chocolate prince in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) which will take about two to four hours, depending on your specific circumstances. At this stage, add the sugar, vanilla bean scrapings, and cinnamon stick, and stir frequently for another hour or so, until the mixture has reduced by half again. The sugar will make the substance more liquidy again, so this step is necessary.
Take out the vanilla bean pods and the cinnamon stick (don’t forget to scrape out the insides!) and blend the mixture in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender.
This will keep indefinitely in your refrigerator.
*More types of apples makes a more interesting blend of apple flavours. Feel free to use all the same variety if you want.
**Dried apples add a wonderfully intense apple hit. You can use 100% dried apples if you want, in which case you’ll want about 1.8 kilos
***I only had 500ml of cider so I used about three and a half litres of water. This still made an amazing apple butter, although I think I used too much/didn’t reduce it enough so my butter is less buttery and more sauc-ey.
****I didn’t use applejack. But I will next time.
*****BraveTart reckons the cinnamon stick is optional. I don’t.