Want to give homemade gifts this holiday season, but you didn’t spend the summer squirreling away the season’s bounty? Never fear: apples to the rescue! Apples are still abundant at area farmer’s markets and there is a dizzying array of options for holiday gift giving: from applesauce (great for new parents or friends with toddlers), jam (quick & easy, with no worrying about the ‘set’) and jelly, to chutneys, spiced or spicy (fantastic hostess gift and great on a cheese tray), and butter, all sorts of butter, apples have got you covered. Preserve them in a lovely jar (the Fido jar above is available on Amazon, but the Container Store has them for $3/each), or jazz ’em up with some festive wrapping, and you have a wonderful gift that any food lover will appreciate.
The great thing about this apple butter? The flavor is unique without being over-the-top-wacky for less adventurous palates. You won’t find this in stores, but it isn’t apple-butter-that-tastes-like-tikka-masala; it’s lightly spiced, with a hint of the exotic, and is somehow strangely holidayesque. There is not a long list of ingredients; garam masala may be the only thing you have to pick up. Using the procrastinaty method, you can break the recipe into two, half-hour segments, meaning you can squeeze it in between bouts of wrapping, tree-decorating and watching the Grinch. So we have unique, flavorful, handmade, easy and time-management friendly. What else? Ah, yes – delicious. The best food gift attribute of all. Make some for someone you love this holiday even (or especially) if that someone is yourself!
Need more apple gifting ideas? Check out Preserving Apples for a full list of recipes.
- pulp, + 1 cup juice, from 6 lbs apples (I used Ida Red organically-grown apples from Fishkill Farms)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 and 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- pinch sea salt
- dash or two of cayenne pepper
- Scrub the apples, quarter, cut off stem and blossom ends, then place in a stockpot with cool filtered water just to cover. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; lower heat and simmer until apples are soft, about 30 minutes. Strain apples through a jelly bag, or several layers of dampened cheesecloth, and collect the pulp. Reserve remaining juice for jelly, or homemade pectin, or you know, juice.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Combine the apple pulp, 1 cup of juice (I had already used the apple juice to make jelly, so I added some fresh apple cider), brown sugar, honey, and spices in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Blend well with an immersion blender or whisk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Continue to cook, at a lively simmer, until the butter thickens slightly and is ready (a dollop on a plate will not separate or ‘weep’), about 15 – 20 minutes (since you have already drained off most of the liquid, this butter takes much less time to cook than when starting from applesauce). Taste and adjust spices as necessary.
- Ladle hot butter into hot jars and fill to 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields about 4 cups.
- You can, of course, make apple butter by your favorite method, whatever that may be: I do encourage you to try out the Indian spices. Nicely flavorful, just a bit exotic, and somehow holiday-esque. I really loved this combination and it makes a nice change of pace from the standard cinnamon-nutmeg-cloves.
Canned, in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 2 months.
Fall into winter.