Spiced Apple Butter
- 8 pounds apples, such as McIntosh, peeled and cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
Special equipment: eight 4-ounce canning jars
In a large stockpot, add the apples, vinegar and about 2 cups water (or enough to just cover the apples) and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook until the apples are soft.
Drain the apples in a large colander and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Puree the apples until smooth, about 1 minute.
Pour the mixture into a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg and lemon zest and juice. Continue to cook the mixture until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture reduces by half, about 30 minutes.
To can the apple butter, bring a large stockpot filled with water to a rapid boil. Place the jars and lids on a rack within the stockpot so that the jars do not make contact with the bottom of the pot. Boil the jars and lids for 10 minutes.
Pour the apple butter into the jars, leaving about 1/4 inch from the top empty. Be careful not to contaminate the insides of the jars by touching them with your hands. Place the lids on the jars and seal the jars tightly. Return the jars to the boiling water for 1 minute to secure the seal.
Serve within 6 months.
About Sterilizing Jars:
Properly handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for years. Sterilizing jars is the first step of preserving foods.
Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two-piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum-seal when processed.
To sterilize jars before filling with jams, pickles or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes.
Use tongs when handling hot sterilized jars, to move them from boiling water. Be sure tongs are sterilized too, by dipping the ends in boiling water for a few minutes.
As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.
After the jars are sterilized, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products.
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