Apple butter is a rich, red-brown preserve flavoured with spice. It’s lovely spread on toast or scones, used to sandwich two sponges together or eaten with really strong cheese. This preserve has a two-stage cook. In the first, you pulp the apples down with the skin, pips and core, as they contain the pectin that helps it set. The second cook is for sweetening and flavouring.
Cooking apples 2kg
Cold water 750ml
Granulated sugar 1kg
Mixed spice 2 heaped tsp
Wash the apples, chop them roughly and put them in a large saucepan. Add the water and set over a medium heat. Bring it to the boil and cook, uncovered, until the apples have softened and collapsed. Using a potato masher in the pan, break the apples to a pulp and remove them from the heat.
Hang a sieve over a mixing bowl and spoon the pulp into the sieve, pushing it through with the back of a wooden spoon. Discard the pips and pith left behind once you have extracted the apple.
Wash and dry the saucepan then return the pulp to it, along with the sugar, lemon juice and mixed spice. Set over a medium-low heat and bring it to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to a minimum and allow the apple to thicken and reduce for about an hour, stirring occasionally. The mixture will be brown
and coat the back of a spoon when its done.
While the apple butter is cooking, wash six or seven jam jars and lids in hot soapy water. Rinse them well and place them on a baking tray. Heat the oven to 100°C and slide the tray in for 30 minutes, or until the jars are completely dry. Once the apple butter is done, spoon it into the hot, clean jars and seal them tightly with the lids. Store in a cool, dark cupboard; the preserve should keep for a year.