I did a bad thing. Well, a very good thing in terms of flavor. I added Apple Jack to my most recent batch of apple butter.
For the last two years, I’ve been going to Apple Crest Farms in NH for my birthday, which generally falls around Columbus Day weekend. Not only do they have a lovely variety of apples to choose from, they have a petting zoo, a market full of jams and cider and other goodies, farm-fresh ice cream, a cider donut booth, and live bluegrass.
They are kid-friendly (box not required)
dog friendly (though Clara wanted to direct the petting zoo pen)
and their ice cream makes you make this face.
I came back with about 15 lbs of apples, a mix of Macintoshes and Cortlands. I should have come back with 30, as I’m already out. But I do have 6 pints of apple brandy apple butter, which will last me a few months if I don’t gift them away. These are almost too tasty to share.
Apple Brandy Apple Butter
7 lbs apples
1 1/2 cup apple cider
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp fresh ground cloves
2 tsp nutmeg
3 oz apple jack or calvados
Peel, core and roughly chop apples. In a wide pot, slowly simmer apples with cider on the lowest possible heat while still keeping a simmer. Stir enough to prevent apples from scorching or browning. Your goal is for the apples to soften enough that they can be smushed easily with a potato masher, about 30-45 mins. Rough them up with the masher, then puree – if you have a food mill, you’re in luck. Alternately, you can use an immersion blender or puree in your food processor. At this point, you should have something the consistency of applesauce.
Now season and cook down further to apple butter, a jam-like consistency. Add apple puree, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and apple jack to your slow cooker. With lid slightly ajar, program slow cooker for 6 hours on low. If you don’t have a slow-cooker, you can do this on the stove top. Keep on low heat, and simmer uncovered for 4-6 hours, stirring every 30-45 minutes.
As always, pack hot into clean jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Wipe your rims and tighten bands over lids firmly. Process 20 minutes in a water bath, or 10 minutes at 8psi in a pressure canner. Store in a cool, dark place. Possibly one with a lock.