We were married in an apple orchard, Danny and I. It was spring and the sun shone, the grass was tall and the apple blossoms were budding a light pink. I had always dreamt of getting married outside and Quebec's sprawling apple orchards provided the perfect backdrop when the time came.
We are fortunate enough to live close enough to that same orchard so we can visit it a few times a year. Usually we plan this around two seasons: in the spring when the blossoms are in full bridal splendor, and in the fall to gather the harvest.
This autumn we brought Noah, who picked apples for the first time. He was oblivious to the history of the orchard, but ran around happily with a partially eaten apple permanently clutched in his little hand. We gathered as many apples as out bag would hold and then sat to eat a few and enjoy the beautiful day.
This recipe is a combination of about three different ones, yet turned out great. The majority of the work is passing the pulp through a sieve to get the tasty puree. It is well worth the work and we now have a shelf in our pantry stocked with this luscious spread to enjoy during the coming cold months.
Maple Apple Butter
Wash, quarter and remove both stem and blossom ends from apples.
Combine apples, apple cider and cinnamon sticks in large, deep stainless steel sauce pan. Simmer, covered, until apples are soft, about 25 minutes.
Remove cinnamon sticks and reserve. Crush apples with potato masher. Put mixture through sieve or strainer to remove peels and seeds. Measure out 6 cups of applesauce, set aside.
Measure maple syrup; set aside.
Return apple puree (and, if you want, cinnamon stick for a more potent cinnamon flavor) to a clean large stainless steel saucepan and stirring occasionally, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 30 minutes or until apple spread mounds on a spoon or desired thickness is reached.
Add maple syrup and cook gently another 30 minutes, stirring often.
Now at this point I chose to throw caution to the wind and abandon traditional canning directions in favor of a time-saving technique I got from a friend. It worked for me, so here's what I did.
Place 7- 250 ml mason jars in your dishwasher and run through a hot rinse cycle. Set screw bands aside and place lids of jars in a small pot. Bring to a low simmer. Have ready a sterilized ladle, tongs, funnel and a clean dish towel for moving jars.
When apple mixture has reached desired consistency, remove from heat. Working with one jar at a time, remove hot jar from dishwasher and using a funnel and a ladle, fill jars with apple butter. Remove a hot lid from the water with your tongs, place on the jar and screw on the screw band to finger tight.
Place on a clean towel on your counter and DO NOT TOUCH for 24 hours. (Tip: make sure you husband knows to stay the heck away from them too, or you’ll have issues like I did.) Repeat with remaining jars until apple butter is finished.
Jars will seal on their own. After 24 hours test for seal. Sealed lids curve downward and do not move when pressed. If any have not sealed, place in refrigerator for immediate use.