Apple Spreads Sweetness This Fall
Photos by Jonathan Boncek
While jams and jellies are an oft-used way to preserve the flavors of a season, fruit butters are a less expected, but no less delicious, way to extend the harvest. A thick smear of apple butter on a warm biscuit gives you all the more reason to relish those crisp autumn mornings. So this fall, spend an afternoon apple picking at a local orchard and transform your bounty into a cider, sauce, pie, and—our current favorite—apple butter.
Fruit butters are made by cooking the fruit to soften and then pureeing it, adding sugar and cooking it some more. As it cooks, most of the liquid will evaporate, leaving a smooth, spreadable texture. Here, we finish our apple butter in the oven, which eliminates the sputtering and splashing of hot liquid that can happen with stove-top methods. A good rule of thumb is to use 1/2 cup of sugar per 1 cup of puree, but this ratio is a loose guide that should be adjusted according to the sweetness of the proof and your preference.
As for the type of apples to use, Fuji, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Gala, and Honeycrisp all make flavorful apple butter. And we do love apples, but other fruits can be substituted. Just be sure to use something in season and quite ripe for optimal flavor, then play with combinations and spices. Try peaches, plums, pumpkins, and pears, as all are well-suited for making butters. To give your spread some personality, try adding spices like allspice, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg.
5 pounds apples
2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups sugar
¾ teaspoon ground allspice
1 lemon, juiced and zested