We picked quite a few apples from our small tree this year; it was here when we bought the house so I’m not quite sure what variety it is. The apples look like Cox’s and they have a similar texture and flavour; thing is, I’ve never liked Cox’s as an eating apple, which is a bit of a drawback, really, given that’s what we appear to have. I used some in chutney and mincemeat but we still had plenty sitting in the shed so I had to think of something else to do with them.
I’d heard of Spiced Apple Butter through American blogs and recipe sites, but it doesn’t seem to be something we Brits have got to grips with; nothing ventured, nothing gained, I thought – I’ll give it a go. Despite being called ‘butter’ by the way, there’s no dairy in it; much the same as Lemon ‘Cheese’ doesn’t have cheese in it. Confusing, isn’t it?
Anyway, although I made this some weeks ago, we hadn’t actually tasted it. I was a bit wary of it, to be honest, and unsure how best to use it. The answer came in the form of some surplus scones that I’d put in the freezer; they were leftover from the batch I’d made to take with us when we popped round to see DS and DDIL (not forgetting Gorgeous Grand-daughter who, at the age of 15 months, is already partial to a cheese scone! That’s my girl...!)
I warmed a couple of apple scones** up in the microwave and gave them a hefty dollop of apple butter. “You can make this again!” said Mr Simply Veg as the scone rapidly disappeared…looks like I know what to do with those apples next year, then!
Many of the American recipes I found had apple juice or cider in them, which I didn’t fancy, so I took the general gist of their recipes and devised my own using a mix of spices and a bit of lemon and vanilla to soften the flavour a little. The slow-cooker method sounds odd but, trust me, it works.
3kg apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
250g white sugar (maybe a bit more or less, depending on the apples)
juice and grated rind of a lemon
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
Turn your slow-cooker on to High to heat up. Put the apples into the crock followed by all the other ingredients and stir well. Cook on High for 2 hours then stir the apples and turn down to Low for a further 3 hours until the apples are very soft; stir the apples really vigorously with a wooden spoon, or use a stick blender, until they break down to a puree; leave the puree to cook on Low for 8-10 hours (I left mine overnight).
In the morning you will have a kitchen that smells good enough to eat and enough dark, spicy apple butter to fill 6 x 190g jars.
**Recipe to follow