Now that winter is finally on its way out, and spring is almost upon us (quite literally, both in calendar time and with daylight savings time in effect), I wanted to make a last-ditch effort to save the last load of apples I’d gotten from the market and kept around all winter. Because while it’s getting warmer, we’ve still got plenty of cold days and nights ahead, as mother nature likes to remind us this time of year.
My favorite thing to make with apples, and there are many, is a simple apple butter. Although it’s name says so, there is actually no butter in this sweet preserve, best served on biscuits or scones, spread across hot pancakes and waffles, or eaten as a complement to peanut butter on a sandwich.
As intimidating as making a preserve or jam may seem, it’s really quite easy, and the good news: there’s no canning involved. Refrigerated, this apple butter will keep for weeks; although I dare you to keep it around that long.
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Yield: About 2 cups
3 lbs. roughly chopped, peeled and cored apples, such as Granny Smith, Fuji, or Macintosh (I prefer tart apples to offset the sugar in this recipe, but feel free to use your favorite variety)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 spent vanilla bean (once you’ve scraped the seeds out for one recipe, save the spent pods for this!)
- Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan, and stir with a wooden spoon until evenly combined. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes to let the sugar and lemon juice draw out the water from within the apples.
- Place over medium-low heat, and cover with a lid. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are steamed tender and look mostly broken down, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the lid, increase the temperature to medium-high, and cook, stirring often, until the apples are just beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan and brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
- Remove and discard the vanilla bean, and then transfer the apple mixture to a food processor. Process until very smooth, and then pour into a resealable container. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to set before serving.
Note: If you don’t have a spent vanilla bean, use 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
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