Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Harvest

Last weekend we picked the first apples from our orchard.  It was only three Enterprise apples, small but tasty.   We then purchased an assortment of Gala, Empire and Stayman Winesap from the Chesterfield Berry Farm Market.  After taking enough apples to make two delicious pies, we prepared the rest for apple butter.

When I make apple butter I quarter them, and toss them in a big pot with a bit of  apple juice or cider, whole allspice, whole star anise, whole cloves and lemon peel.   Simmering on low heat, the quarters gradually reduce and take on the spiced flavors.

Phase I - Apple quarters start to reduce.

Phase II - Almost ready for puree.

When preparing the puree I use the old fashioned method, by hand.  Instead of the Cuisinart or blender, I use a chinois and wooden "pestle."  It's messy and labor intensive, but I think the flavor is much better.   The mashing allows the skins to add their flavor without the bitterness of pureed skins in the mix.  The spices also release their flavors without adding grainy bits.

Chinois, metal collection bowl and jars for processing.
 Once the pulp is pureed, it's time to add the secret blend of powdered spices - including cinnamon then it is into the roasting pan in a cool oven for a long, slow, simmering reduction. 

Blending in the cinnamon and spices.
Ready to reduce.

12 pounds of apples reduced down to four pints of smooth and creamy apple butter.

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