Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Sure Sign of Fall: Apples!

We visited the Annapolis Valley yesterday and stopped by a few of our favourite farmer's markets.  Much to my delight, I saw that the apple harvest had started.  Nova Scotia produces some of the best apples! They're crisp, have just the right balance of sweetness to tartness, and there are many varieties to choose from (proof here).  Here's a brief history of apples in the Province from the Government of Nova Scotia.

I've always wanted to try making an apple butter and decided there is no time like the present! I worked with this recipe to get me started and followed canning procedures using a hot water bath to process the jars once it was ready (leaving 1/4" headspace, used 250ml jars, and processed for 10 minutes with a rolling boil).

• 6 lbs of apples, cut into quarters
• 1 cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 cups water
• 3 cups sugar
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 3/4 tsp ground cloves
• ½ tsp allspice
• The juice and zest of 1 lemon

I put everything in a slow cooker and put it on the highest setting. I stirred everything together and then let it cook on high for 60 minutes. I then turned the temperature down to low and let it simmer for 5 hours. The smell in my kitchen was heavenly!  There is something so comforting about the smell of apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar cooking.

At the end of the 5 hours, I put everything through a strainer/sieve, and put the remaining mixture into a non-stick pot on the stove. I then cooked it on low for a little over an hour (it was about an hour & 15 mins).  At this stage while it was on the stove top, I stirred it frequently (about every 10 minutes) to make sure it didn't stick or start to burn. When I first put it in the pot it was a little bit thicker than an applesauce and just kept reducing from there.
It's just a bit thicker than applesauce at this point
What you're looking for is a spreadable texture. Keep a close eye on it and you'll be able to judge when the texture is where you want it. Once you've achieved the spreadable consistency, it's ready to be ladled into jars and processed. I ended up with 9 jars of it and can't wait to dig in!

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