Apples come in so many different varieties it is almost overwhelming just thinking about it. If you have never been apple picking I strongly urge you to go. Whether it is in your own back yard or at a nearby farm, nothing beats scouring the trees for the best and the brightest. When making apple butter I like to use a mixture of both sweet and tart apples to create a perfect balance. This time around I used sweet gala apples and tart crabapples, but feel free to experiment with your own local varieties. Apples, in general, are thought of as a health food. They always say "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", but who says they have to taste likewise? Most apples contain phytonutrients which help regulate blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes. Additionally, the polyphenols or antioxidants within apples have been found to decrease the oxidation of fats within the cell membrane. This accumulation of fat within the bloodstream is the leading cause of heart attacks today. Apples also provide a healthy amount of fiber and vitamin C. So when you are craving something sweet reach for an apple instead of that piece of cake, it will fill you up and keep you satisfied.
Naked Apple Butter
4 1/2 cups chopped apples (I used part sweet apples and part crabapples)
about 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or more depending on how sweet your apples are)
about 1 tsp ground cinnamon
about 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
a pinch ground cloves
Peel and chop your apples into large chunks. Next, add the apple chunks to a large pot along with about 1/2 cup filtered water. Heat the pot on high until the water begins to steam, then lower the heat to medium low and cover with a lid. Make sure to frequently stir the apples to prevent burning.
After about 5 minutes of steaming, begin mashing the apples with a potato masher. Not all the apples will be soft at this point but keep mashing anyway. Continue to stir and mash until the apples are very soft and smooth. Add more water if necessary. If you desire, you can pour this mixture into the blender to make sure there are not any leftover lumps (I didn't since I don't mind the small pieces).
Now, stir in the sugar and spices. Taste your apple butter (without burning yourself) and add more sugar if needed. This recipe keeps in a sealed glass jars for about 2 weeks. Enjoy!
*I have had great success with canning this recipe. I doubled the recipe and followed the canning instructions for apples in my canner manual, perfect to enjoy all winter!