Thursday, December 6, 2012

Apple Butter, Apple Jelly, and Pumpkin Pie

                                    "Oh no!! December already!!!"

Time to skid to a stop and catch-up with some autumn recipes before moving on into the Christmas holidays!....

Since our apple trees did not produce well this year, we took a trip to our local apple orchard and bought some Winesap apples. The goal??? Grandma Guthrie’s wonderful apple butter that we loved so much while growing up!  

For many years, this recipe was missing until I recently happened upon it while looking through a box of old recipes. Hidden in the same box were also long-lost directions for making pickled beans and pickled corn…which I’ll tell you about some day!

It was surprising to me to find that the only spice Grandma used in this recipe was cloves!   My uncle remembers her adding cinnamon red hots, so I think she must have experimented a bit.  The flavor of this one, however, is what I remember liking so well and my sister agrees with me.

Now if only I could find the recipe for Grandma's Fried Apple Butter Pies!  Ahhh…the treat everyone remembers, but few, if any, have been able to duplicate.  Could the difference have been frying them in an iron skillet on a wood stove?  Quite possibly.  Maybe it was that she used biscuit dough rolled very thin?  How about the oil… what  would she have used?   Lard?  Crisco?  I had hoped to experiment and make some pies for this blog, but that will have to wait until after the holidays!

 Anyway….here’s the elusive Apple Butter recipe.  Maybe you will want to try it some day and then experiment with Fried Apple Butter Pies!


Scrub the apples…Winesap is preferred but Red Delicious is good.   Remove the blossom end and stem.  Slice about ¼” or peel and slice—as preferred.
Cook apples in sauce pan or kettle over low heat with a little water…about 2 cups to a 6-8 quart kettle.  Stir frequently. 
When apples are tender, rub them through a sieve or colander to make a sauce.
Pour the sauce in a large stainless steel or enameled pan.  Cook in the oven at 325-350 degrees stirring frequently.  Cook until very thick.
Add sugar to taste and cook 1 hour longer.  
Add a few (3-4) drops of cloves to 1 cup of apple butter.  Stir and mix well.  Drop by spoonfuls over the top of the pan of apple butter.  Mix thoroughly.  Oil of cinnamon may be added or a mixture of oil of cinnamon and oil of cloves if desired. 
Fill hot jars to within ¼” of the top.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal.

Now for a few personal observations:

~ My first taste of the apple butter was disappointing…much too “clovy.” So, I let it simmer, and simmer, and simmer.  What a difference! There was the taste I was looking for!  For the second batch, I added the cloves before putting the pan of applesauce into the oven instead of after it thickened.  Perfect!

~ Add the clove oil with care.  An extra drop or two goes a long way; it’s easy to get too much. I remember even Grandma’s apple butter had a bit of a stronger clove taste some years than others.


Mounds and mounds of apple peelings! ....What to do with them???
Why, Apple Jelly of course!!  

 I made sure to clean the apples thoroughly with vinegar and then soapy water. After comparing several online directions, I decided to follow the tutorial at this site:  

Two tips I gleaned from other web pages were: 1) Refrigerate liquid overnight so the sediment will settle on the bottom, and 2) Carefully ladle out the juice into a measuring cup to keep the sediment from mixing with the juice and causing cloudy jelly.  Using the Sure Jell Pectin method was so simple and the jelly got rave reviews!


I LOVE this pie!  It is more like a light, custard and is soo good ..... even without a crust!  It originated with my great, great Aunt Ruby.

2          Eggs, separated
            Pinch of salt
1  Cup Cooked and strained pumpkin (we like to use butternut squash)
½ Cup Sugar
1  Tsp  Flour
1  Tsp  Cinnamon
¼ Tsp  Cloves
1  Cup Milk, warm or hot  (Canned milk diluted makes a creamier pie)
2  Tbsp Butter, melted

Add pumpkin to beaten yolks; combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and cloves; add to pumpkin/egg mixture; add milk and butter.

Beat egg whites until stiff and stir well into mixture; pour mixture into unbaked pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees; lower temperature to 325 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

That's all for this time!  Our traditional Christmas morning fruit salad coming up...and maybe some of Grandma's special Christmas-time cookies!