Saturday, October 10, 2015

Apple Butter

I've been apple buttering, and it's all kinds of nostalgic for me, in such a good way.

I love the way the house smells as it simmers on the stove for hours.
I love tasting it.
I love how, in my mind's eye, I can see it going down in the kitchen of my childhood, smell that same aroma of cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg throughout the house.
I can see the jars, filled with hot butter, flipped upside down on a towel on the kitchen counter, sealing the lids.
That's how Dad did it, how he taught me.
I love that it means fall.
I love that it means family---and it's a solid, tangible connection to times past.

I love anything that connects me to my people, and this is just another way.

You take a whole box of apples, fresh from the orchard, and peel and core them all.

Put them in a big stockpot, with apple juice in the bottom, and cook them, until they've broken down and softened.
Then comes this handy contraption.  I have no idea where my dad got it (honestly, probably from his mother), but it's super heartwarming for me.  
Today someone would likely pulse the pulp through a food processor, but I do this.
Take it out of that big pot, a few cups at a time, dump them into this, and then go around and around as it pushes the pulp through and into the bowl below.

It creates the most delicious, perfect texture -- 
basically everything a spread should be.
Every time I use it, I think about how, as a small person (even as an adult person!), I used to marvel at how fast my dad could maneuver that thing, how his hands were strong and never seemed to get tired.

Once you've done that, you put it back in the stockpot and add sugar, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

And then begins the lovely process of cooking it on low for hours, coming to the stove often to stir it so it doesn't stick and burn on the bottom.

Over time it reduces, the color deepens, and the flavors meld and solidify into something blissful.
In fact, last Saturday, I had a batch of this sitting on the stove, ready to bottle.  I had made yeast waffles for conference --- the kind of batter you have to let raise a bit before using --- delicious because they taste more "bready."  I whipped cream and chopped berries.

I was rhapsodizing aloud (I do this a lot with food) about having one of those waffles with a layer of natural peanut butter (I have a serious addiction to peanut butter, too---and that's okay (I ain't scared!)), followed by fresh warm apple butter, and topped with sweetened cold cream.  

As I said this, Benji interjected, shaking his head, and said,
"No, no...that's not hitting my spot."
(insert emoji laughter with tears face)

The whole idea was reeeeeally hitting mine, and his comment was highly amusing for me.

But, let's just bring it down to brass tacks.  
I'm telling you...take some apple butter, slather it on a thick piece of homemade bread with salted butter, and just tell me if it doesn't send you somewhere celestial.  
For real.

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