The Catt Box

'Blue Ribbon Recipes'

Every year I enter all sorts of baked, canned, and even sewing items in the Piedmont Interstate Fair, here in South Carolina. I win lots of blue ribbons that I am very proud of. One of the most challenging things to enter is my Apple Butter. I am up against six counties of southern women....and if they knew that a Yankee girl was beating them out of first place in Apple Butter, they'd probably kill me! Now I want to share that recipe, and maybe a few others, with you. This is my own recipe with years of trial and error behind it. 

'Catt's Apple Butter'©

 

One of the things you may want to do before you start is take steps to make clean-up a lot easier later on. I like to line my stove and surrounding areas with aluminum foil. I use Scotch tape to keep the foil in place. Trust me, you'll be glad you protected your cooking area. It's not fun to clean up dried apple butter that has boiled and popped it's way all over your cooking area. 

 

 Ingredients

about 30 apples, pared and quartered (hard apples)

4 cups of apple cider

5 cups of sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons allspice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 whole cinnamon stick, about 3 inches long, or so

Directions

Prepare spices and sugar, blend well, and set aside. Boil prepared apples with the apple cider until tender. Put boiled apples, with the cider, through a blender, set on puree setting. Do not drain the cider from the apples. When all of the apple and cider mixture is blended, return the mixture to the stove on just below medium heat. At this point you can add the sugar and spice mixture to the apple and cider mixture. Stir in well and add whole cinnamon stick. Let boil until desired thickness, which could be anywhere from 4 - 7 hours. 

A way to keep a check on the thickness is to spoon a small amount on a saucer and see how much liquid seeps from it as it cools. You should see next to no seepage when the apple butter is thick enough. You can stir the apple butter often, but it isn't necessary to keep a constant stirring...you do have a life! At this point I like to go ahead and sterilize my jars. It's best to do this in a dishwasher, but if you don't have one, the old fashioned 'boiling' method is fine.

 And this is an important note...as much as we are tempted to do so, do not double the recipe...it just won't work well. I usually have several pots of apple butter going at once. While the mixture is boiling down, it's been my experience that you will want to place a splatter screen on top of the pot. That stuff is like lava when it boils and it will get everywhere. It's also a good idea to wear an oven mitt when you stir it, trust me, I have scars on my hands.

When it comes close to time for the apple butter to be placed into the jars, boil some screw-bands and dome lids in some water. Once the apple butter is at the desired thickness, you can then combine several mixtures together to keep hot and to free up some space on your stove. I believe that at least two pots of apple butter gives me about 10 or 11 pint jars. It varies. Prepare the apple butter in the jars and place them in the hot water bath for about 10 minutes. Let them cool in a draft free area...clean up, go to bed, make biscuits in the morning. I always like to make home made bread the day I make apple butter...it is so worth it!

If you have any questions please email me.

 

Copyright© February 26, 2009 Cathy Palmer - Scruggs / Catt Alexander

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