Autumn is synonymous with apples in my world. School starts up again and traditionally, students took apples to their teachers. (Wonder where that tradition got lost?) The apples are getting ripe and are being harvested. Apple pies are showing up everywhere along with Pork Chops and Applesauce, Fried Apple Pies, and Apple Fritters. Remember when I told you about Aunt Ruby's story of my grandma making apple butter in a copper pot over an open fire, and how she stirred it with a long wooden paddle? (Anyone know where I can find a paddle like that?!) Well, sadly, I didn't use a copper pot or open fire. I say 'sadly' because the experience would definitely be unique today! But thankfully, I didn't have to worry about starting any forest fires and I could leave the apples cooking while I went about my business.
I started with about fifteen apples. Granny Smiths. Next time, I might use a slightly sweeter variety because I would rather have natural sugar than processed and Apple Butter has to be somewhat sweet.
Then I peeled them and put them in the crockpot. (I'd really like a new crockpot! I'm totally dated by having a 'country-blue' crockpot! I want a new black and steel one!)
Please be aware that fifteen-plus apples don't fit in a crockpot. The lid will be askew, for sure. Fifteen apples is a lot. Also, be it known that I peeled, cored, and sliced these FIFTEEN with my handy-dandy peeler-corer-slicer machine purchased from my friend, Martha. Yeah, THAT friend. She's your friend, too. My work was made very easy, quick, and painless. That little machine would've helped my Mammaw Romans, too, with peeling all those 'umpteen' apples to fill that large copper pot!
I put the crockpot on HIGH, taught a couple of piano lessons, and left for an evening meeting. I had just pulled into the driveway when my phone rang. It was my daughter saying, "Umm … should the crockpot still be on HIGH? Because it's really making a mess!" I said, "I'm in the driveway on my way in!"
When I entered our kitchen, she had the mess cleaned up, but the lid was still 'askew', but only because of the heat level in the pot! If I had gotten home just a bit later, apples would've been spilling down the counter onto my gorgeous Swedish-finish wood floor! I wouldn't have been a Happy Mama! Thank God for wonderful children who find challenges to meet!! J The apples had already disintegrated into literal pulp! Amazing. I could not believe that that many apples and a little sugar could go through such a transformation!
I turned the heat to LOW and after keeping an eye on it a bit, I went to bed, a bit apprehensive as to what I would find in the morning. But no worries, in the morning, all was calm and the apples were still simmering to perfection. I pulled out my jars and stuck them in the dishwasher.
Later in the afternoon, I rushed home, added cinnamon to the apple mixture, and jarred the contents of the crockpot. I pulled the warm jars from the dishwasher, dipped the apple butter into them, topped them with boiled lids and turned them upside down. This is called the Inversion Method of canning and is not approved by the USDA, or something like that. I figure that if it was good enough for Grandma, it's good enough for me. If they don't seal, you'll feel a 'popping' on the lid when you turn them upright and press on the lid. In that case, you just put them in the fridge as opposed to the pantry. No harm done. Then, the next morning, you make yummy Buttermilk biscuits, a Vanilla latte, and down it all with the Apple Butter on top.
I'm not thinking that it can get any better!
(Note: This was my birthday morning! Perfect.)
(NOTE: I used Granny Smith apples. They are very tart and require more sugar! I probably added 2-3 cups of sugar. I used 4 t. of cinnamon and always thought it was the cinnamon that made the dark color of apple butter, but learned from making it that it is the cooking process! I guess it's true that you learn something new every day.)