My mockingbird has started singing again. He visits me daily in my little studio in the garden. Not because he wants to see me but because I have a large crab apple tree about 10 feet from the door. Cedar waxwings and blue jays have been competing with him but he seems to be the ruler of this tree! He's not shy either as you can see I'm standing underneath him taking his picture. Its such a joy hearing his song while I work.
We finally made it to the orchard last Sunday. I think I was suppose to go about a month ago! Brown's Orchard is a simple building the size of a four-car garage with about 12 giant bins of different apples and a small refrigerator for cider. It smells heavenly! There is a large old barn next to it were all the hard work must be done. Surrounding these two buildings and a sweet farmhouse across the lane are acres and acres of apple trees on rolling hills. It's truly a lovely setting especially for a fall drive.
Lydia and I did manage to can 6 pints of apple butter and make 2 apple cakes which we froze for Christmas this past weekend. We've already finished almost a whole jar! I know I only have these 6 jars (well 5 now) but it is so satisfying making something from scratch using very little money.
Just in case your not sure what apple butter is, its a highly concentrated form of apple sauce that you slow cook so that the apples caramelize turning the apple butter a deep brown. It has a much longer shelf life than applesauce and was very popular in colonial America. The Pennsylvania Dutch often include apple butter as part of their traditional seven sweets and seven sours dinners. Yum!
This is my very simple recipe for apple butter. I've tried others in the past but found they were just to spicy for me....like eating potpourri. We love it on my friends' mom's english muffin bread the best but I didn't have time to make that this weekend. When I do, I'll post the recipe. Until then we like to put it on our pancakes, buttered toast, and use it as a side dish for dinner.
16 - 20 apples ~ I asked them to mix it up for me because they had many different varieties but if your going to the super market I'd say to mix up Golden Delicious, Rome and Granny Smith or whatever apples you like when you make applesauce. I like tart and use more Granny Smith.
4 Cups Apple Cider
2 Lemons ~ Juiced
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
a couple shakes of Allspice and Ground Cloves (just a little ~ you can add more later)
Core and quarter the apples ~ don't peel. Put in a large dutch oven with the apple cider. Bring to a boil and then simmer until all apples are soft.
Once soft, put entire mixture through a food mill and add back to pot. Add the lemon juice, brown sugar and spices. Bring back to a boil then simmer over low heat for 3 hours stirring occasionally. I usually do a few taste test during this time and adjust the spices if needed.
Can your butter according to manufacturers instructions or you can put it in small containers or bags and freeze it. Canning is not hard at all and it looks a lot prettier than freezing. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse. Keep them warm so they don't crack when you fill them with the hot apple butter. Screw on lids and place in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. That's it! Sounds scary but its easy. Before my mom gave me her canning pot I would do 2 jars at a time in my soup pot (just be careful when your removing the jars not to burn yourself). Also, let the jars cool on a kitchen towel because if they come in contact with a cold surface the glass could break and all that time and hard work would be lost.
Enjoy the day and thanks always for reading my blog. xoxo