As the evenings cool down and the mornings retain a bit of a chill, foothill residents begin to think about all those apples ripening on the apple trees. The local climate encourages apple growers and provides the ideal conditions for great harvests. In fact, visitors flock to the foothills year after year to visit Apple Hill and to fill up on apple products of all types.
Apple butter seems to be a favorite of Apple Hill visitors, with many jars of this spreadable goodness being sold every year. Similar to jams and jellies, fruit butters usually contain less sugar than jams or jellies and may be mixed with spices such as cinnamon or cloves. Fruits other than apples also make delicious butters.
The key to good apple butter lies in the recipes and the techniques used to process and preserve the fruit.
The Master Food Preservers of El Dorado County demonstrate how to make fruit butters, conserves and marmalades in free public education classes coming up soon.
The class, “Conserves, Butters and Marmalades” will be on Saturday, Sept. 22, with a repeat on Tuesday, Sept. 25. The Saturday class will be held at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville and the repeat class will be at the Marshall Grange, 4940 Marshall Road in Garden Valley. Both classes run from 10 a.m. to noon, and include specific instructions with tested recipes.
The recipe below comes from the Ball Blue Book and makes a simple apple butter everyone will enjoy.
24, medium-sized apples, quartered (do not use windfall apples, only good quality apples should be used)
2 cups sweet apple cider
3 cups sugar
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1. Cook the apples in cider until tender.
2. Press through a sieve or food mill.
3. Measure 3 quarts apple pulp.
4. Cook pulp until thick enough to round up in a spoon. As pulp thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.
5. Add sugar and spices. Cook slowly, stirring frequently, until thick and glossy, about one hour.
6. Pour hot butter into hot jars, leaving ½-inch headspace, wipe jar rims, adjust lids and process pints and quarts 10 minutes in a simmering-water bath, adjusting for altitude.
For questions about safe home food preservation or to schedule a speaker for organizations or clubs on the topics of food safety or food preservation, call the Master Food Preservers at 530-621-5506.
For more information go to the Master Food Preserver Website at cecentralsierra.ucanr.org/Master_Food_Preservers/. Sign up to receive the new Master Food Preservers E-Newsletter at ucanr.org/mfpenews/.