The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
I want to thank the host this month for giving us so much useful information about preserving food! It was quite interesting to read through all of the different methods and see how it is possible to store large amounts of homemade food. I can't wait to get the appropriate equipment and try canning someday.
One of the recipes John provided was for Apple Butter, and I don't know about you, but I've always had this stereotype about apple butter. I've always viewed it as being overly an expensive product that you find on the Specialty Jams shelf at Whole Foods. (Or Jonathan's in La Jolla. I visited that grocery store one in 9th grade and have been in awe of it ever since. Hmm, I see a future blog post topic in this... but I digress.)
Seeing that my conclusions about apple butter were being tauntingly thrown back in my face, I was eager to print the recipe and begin the apple butter-making processes in my kitchen so I could turn my fridge into something holding a hoity toity Whole Foods product impersonation*.
The best part of this cooking experience? My roommate decided to help me out. Now, the day we decided to make apple butter had a high of 87F, and it was still about that temperature in our apartment, so the fact that she willingly decided to stand in front of a hot stove for an hour with me shows true friendship.
While standing in the sweltering heat of our medium-high burner and smelling the spicy aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg, we got out The Masher. I have many kitchen-gadget loves, but a piece of my heart definitely belongs to the potato masher because of how much fun it is to use. Since we don't own an electric mixer, we stood mashing away (rather more aggressively than necessary, perhaps) at our apples until they turned into a fine pulp. What a good way to let out some pent up frustration, no?
But uhm... here's where I tell you the truth and try not to make eye-contact.
Apple butter tastes like applesauce. Exactly. Like. Applesauce.
I think the best part was that it was thicker than applesauce so you could spread it on bread (which actually did taste quite nice), but I'm not sure the amount of time spent standing (and sweating) in front of the stove was worth it. At least now I can walk past the Specialty Jams shelf in Whole Foods without an aching longing in my heart for the luxury of jarred apple butter.
*Okay, the truth? I'm actually in love with Whole Foods. Hopelessly and irrevocably in love with it. I love the tangy smell as I walk down the cheese isle and pass the exotic goat cheeses. I love scooping my dry goods from the bins and weighing the exact amount that I need. I most of all I love the organic (albeit very expensive) produce section. I bought a peach from Whole Foods and have been hoarding it for a special occasion, just so you know. But if I pretend to outwardly hate it, it helps me not spend my entire semester-long budget on food that would make me feel like an environmentally conscious princess.
Want to try making Apple Butter? Head on over to The Daring Kitchen
4 lbs of Apples
1 cup apple cider (or juice or water)
1/2 cup sugar or honey
1 Tbsp Cinnmon
1/2 tsp. Allspice
1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
1. Wash apples. Peel, core, and cut into eights.
2. Combine apples and cider in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are falling apart. Add sugar and spices. Mash apple mixture and simmer over a low heat, stirring frequently. (Leave the lid off, to allow for evaporation)
3. To test for doneness, spoon a small amount onto a plate. When the butter mounds together without seeping liquid around the edges (as would applesauce), then it is done.
4. Preserve the mixture how you'd like to!