This apple season has been phenomenal! After a few years of really bad apple crops, the trees have produced some wonderful fruit this Fall! We have already made a few trips to the orchard for bags and bags of apples and have sampled nearly 15 different varieties! The Ginger Golds in particular have been exceptional with their crisp bite, firm yet juicy texture, and sweet-tart flavor. We have apples everywhere - all over the countertops, in decorative glass bowls adorning the dining room table and hutch, and filling the spacious back compartment of our double stroller from a recent trip to the park where the public apple trees were overflowing with beautiful, ripe fruit just begging to be plucked from the bowing branches. Having our house filled to the brim with apples is not a problem for me and my troop, for every member of this familiy (with the exception of Lucy and her one-ingredient diet) is obsessed with apples. Matthew and Emma eat about 3-4 apples a day. They would eat more except I selfishly cut them off because I'm worried they'll eat our entire supply and leave none for me!
Besides just eating the apples out of hand, we've been making a fair share of sweet apple treats. Every year, I make a huge supply of apple butter to can for us over the next couple of months. Paul loves apple butter and looks forward to enjoying it each Fall. I normally pile our crockpot high with all the apples, spices, and sugar and allow the butter to cook that way, but I wanted to try a different method this year. The most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated had a recipe for apple butter that included a generous portion of Applejack. That sounded awesome, so I chose that recipe but added in a generous amount of spice because their recipe did not even call for cinnamon. To me, apple butter should always have a bit of spice.
The result was a beautiful, shiny apple spread that I could directly out of the jar with a spoon. No toast required! We've been enjoying it in our oatmeal, as a filling for apple pie, rolled up into cinnamon roll dough along with fresh diced apples, and mixed with mustard and dappled over bratwurst. This stuff is incredible. No more crockpot recipe for me. This is the recipe I'll be sticking with in the future.
adapted from Cook's Illustrated Magazine September/October 2015
4 pounds of assorted apples
1 cup apple cider
1 cup Calvados brandy or Applejack
1 cup granulated sugar, (7 ounces)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
Combine apples, cider, and Calvados in large Dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples are very soft, about 30 minutes.
Working in batches, transfer apples to food mill and process. Discard skins and transfer purée to now-empty Dutch oven. Stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt, and spices. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is browned and thickened and rubber spatula or wooden spoon leaves distinct trail when dragged across bottom of pot, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Transfer apple butter to jar with tight-fitting lid and let cool completely before covering and refrigerating. Apple butter can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Makes about 3 cups