Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Papa's Apple Butter

It's the time of year when all things pumpkin, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg smell wonderful.

I had read about this recipe for apple butter some months back and had wanted to make it once the weather cooled. It's Darby's recipe. I like apple butter, but it's not something I crave.

For me, it is one of those things that triggers a memory.

Apple butter was one of my grandfather's favorite things. I remember he always had a jar at home whenever he had biscuits. I also remember that any time we traveled within a 15 mile radius of a Cracker Barrel we had to stop so he could eat their apple butter too.

(aka Frank Denning)

My grandfather was one of the sweetest, loving and funniest men I've ever met. He passed away this spring. I miss him dearly, but thought making this would be a great way to remember him during this fall season.

I wish he had been here so he could have gone to the NC Mountains like he did every year with my grandmother and bring back fresh apples. Instead I had to settle for some I bought locally.

I mixed them up and did half Gala Apples and half Green Delicious Apples. I ended up dicing about 16 apples. That's a lot of peeling and cutting. 

But they were so pretty and smelled so good! And this was before I had even added in the rest of the ingredients. 

I have a fairly small crock pot. (Side note: I just noticed last week my boyfriend has a HUGE crock pot at his house that's still in the box. Next time, I'm using his) 

It wouldn't hold too much and I thought it was going to spill over, but once I threw in the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and sugar and got it warmed up...

...amazing things started happening. The house began to smell like the Yankee Candle Store and the apples started cooking down to a more manageable amount. I started on high and then turned it down to low and let it work its magic over night. 

I love a crock pot for that very reason. It does all the work while you're sleeping. 

I forgot to snap a shot of the finished product prior to the next step - the blender. I'm still half asleep when I wake up. But, close your eyes and imagine a bowl of apple goodness that had turned a dark, cinnamon brown color. I drained some of the liquid off so that my butter wouldn't be runny. I poured it in the blender and pulsed it until it was the consistency of apple sauce. 

Then I broke out this - 

I felt like such a domesticated woman when I bought that at Wal-Mart way back when. I'm pretty sure if someone suggested me doing that around my early 20's I would have laughed and made some joke about a grandma. Funny how your perspective changes in just a few short years, huh? 

I went to work filling up my jars and boiling my water. Canning stuff really isn't as bad or complicated as I originally thought. 

See how good that looks? Just imagine it on a biscuit straight out of the oven. 

I finished them off just in time to head out the door. I was meeting my grandmother for dinner that evening and I wanted to be sure she got the first jar of my first batch of apple butter. I wish she could share it with Papa, but I know she'll be thinking of him with every bite.

Happy Fall, y'all!

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