The apple streusel muffins I baked last week were lovely, but I wanted to do something a bit more interesting with the rest of the apples my mother-in-law gave me from her garden. So I decided on apple butter. I mentioned this to a few people here in the UK, but nobody seemed to have heard of apple butter, so I came to the conclusion that it must be a strictly American thing (though I think it might be European in origin). Anyway, I was delighted to find an apple butter recipe in my copy of The Country Kitchen by Jocasta Innes, that very British queen of everything. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the recipe until I’d already made my apple butter, so the recipe I’ve posted here is slightly different from Jocasta’s.
4 lbs cooking apples
1 cup cider vinegar
2 cups water
Sugar, about 4 cups
2 tsps cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp allspice
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
Cut the apples into quarters without peeling or coring. Put in a large saucepan and add the vinegar and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer until the fruit is soft, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and force the pulp through a sieve or, better yet, a chinois if you have one. Measure your resulting pulp and add ½ cup of sugar for each 1 cup of apple pulp. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add a dash of salt, and the cinnamon, cloves, allspice and lemon.
Cook again on a low heat for 1-2 hours, sitting constantly to prevent burning. Cook until it’s good and thick – it should leave a trail when you spoon some across in your saucepan. When it’s done, spoon it into sterilsed jars.
I don’t know how you like to eat your apple butter, but I have fond memories of late-night sandwiches at the Ivy Room when I was at university. My fellow Brunonians will know exactly what I mean. Cheese, apple butter and peanut butter, sometimes with alfalfa sprouts, in pita bread. It doesn’t sound so appetising now, but at 19 after a long night, it really hit the spot!
These days, I prefer mine on hearty granary bread, topped with a bit of grated mature Cheddar and put under the grill. That, with a good book, is the perfect lunch.