After visiting North Carolina last month, I returned home with a mixed bushel of crisp, juicy, sweet and tart apples. Turns out a bushel is a lot of apples! So armed with a friend's peeler and corer, as well her crockpot apple butter recipe, developed over many years of testing, I set to work.
The apples had to cook in the crockpot for 12-14 hours, so I set them up before I went to bed one night. Perhaps 10 pm cooking is not my thing, as I messed up my sugar ratio, adding a lot more white and a little less brown sugar than called for (don't ask me how), I weighed my apples after peeling them (so the sugar probably evened out) and I had no cloves on hand as called for. It turned out perfectly delicious, nonetheless. I netted 11 pints of apple butter, and had lots of apples still left....
So I canned 3 quarts of homemade applesauce - not even a drop of sugar needed! It took a lot of apples to make only three quarts. And still more apples awaiting their fate....
Apple pie filling, of course! I canned 5 quarts of it, plus made one on-the-spot pie. I've made two pies with this filling now, and both met rave reviews. Another pie is on the docket for Thanksgiving; maybe that one will actually get photographed before eaten.
I'd really like to share all the details of my apple canning endeavors here. Both for you, my readers, and myself, to chronicle exactly what I did. But I failed to record any of it in the moment. How could I do that? I can tell you I loosely followed this recipe for the applesauce, and this recipe for the apple pie filling (with no yellow food coloring - why would one do that?). As for the apple butter, with no disrespect to my friend's recipe, here is what I think I did....
My Unintentional (but still super yummy) Apple Butter
5.5 lbs. peeled, cored & chopped apples (tart variety)
2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 T cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 1/4 c. white sugar
Put apples and all ingredients in crockpot, stir. Cook on high for one hour, then on low for 12 hours. Remove lid, stir and cook until thickened. If desired (I did), puree the apples with an immersion blender for a smooth texture. Pour the hot apple butter into sanitized jars, wipe rims with a clean cloth, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let them cool on a towel-lined countertop. When cool to the touch, check the seals by removing the rings and lifting the jars by the edges of the lid. Store in a cool, dark place for up to six months.