Apple Butter

The apple season is here. I have been making apple everything since our recent trip to the orchard. Apple Butter is easy to make, and is wonderful topping for bagels, toast, english muffins, pancakes, waffles and more. We had some for breakfast today along side slices of ham and eggs. Yummm!
I have been working on perfecting this recipe for years. I must say that this year I finally found the perfect combination of spices. The apples cook down and become extra thick apple sauce, but the real secret is how simple and easy it is to make. Here’s the recipe:
10-12 lbs. Fresh apples
3 1/2 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1Tablespoon ground cloves
1 Tablespoon nutmeg
12 half pint Mason jars with lids and rings
optional: 1 cup of port wine
Add Mason jars to canner, cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes to sterilize the jars.
Wash apples, slice into quarters, remove cores. Add them to a large stock pot along with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer 25-30 minutes until all apples are soft. Stir frequently and crush apples down into the bottom of the pan with a potato masher or large spoon. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly. Process through a food mill or in a blender until smooth. You may need to add a bit more water if it’s too thick.
Return apple sauce to pan, adding sugar, lemon juice and spices. If you are using the port wine, now is the time to add it. Simmer again over low heat another 30 minutes until sauce is very thick and slightly brown. Stir frequently, as it sticks to the bottom of the pan easily.
Immediately fill hot jars, leaving 1/4″ head space. Using a plastic utensil, release trapped air bubbles by sliding the utensil along the edge of the inside of the jar. Wipe threads clean with a paper towel, cover with a hot lid, then finger tighten the band on the top of the jar.
Process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. You can keep the butter in the freezer as well without having to use a boiling water canner. I would not even sterilize the jars if you are freezing. Be sure to leave 3/4″ to 1″ extra head space for freezing. 
The port wine adds a wonderful flavor should you have some on hand. I have had excellent results with the wine as well as without. An open jar will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
Happy Fall! 

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