This is an annual treat that I, hubby, and all my friends and family wait for. Caramel Apple Butter.
Could there be a more beautiful set of words? I think not!
Now, let me caveat to say this is NOT a USDA, Ball, Kerr or otherwise “approved” recipe, so use your own freedom of will to decide if you want to make this recipe for yourself or not. It’s controversial because Kraft caramels are added to the puree and melted down, so that’s that. I can say; however, I’ve made this recipe and canned it safely for several years and it’s a delicious treat.
With that said, let’s start canning! This recipe will make about 12 pints, so if you would like less, just halve the recipe for 6 pints or 12 half pints.
Start with a half bushel of apples (this came out to 14 lbs for my half bushel)
Peel and core the apples. Hopefully you have one of these nifty apple peelers! Add the peeled apples to a very large (or two) stockpot. Add about 2-3 inches of water or apple cider to the pot, bring to a boil, put a lid on the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the apples are fork tender. Stir the apples about every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking.
Take the cooked apples with the water/juice and puree using a stick blender, food processor or blender.
Add apple puree to a large roasting pan. Traditionally, apple butter making is done on the stovetop, but who wants to dodge all those bubbling spurts of hot, molten apple butter blobs? Not me! I put my apple butter in a roasting pan and cook it in the oven, or in this case, I use my 18 quart Nesco roaster, which is a small, convenient oven in itself!
Add 2 cups of sugar for every 7 cups of apple puree (or to taste if you like it sweeter). In my case, I used 6 cups of white sugar.
Add 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, ½ teaspoon of ground cloves, and 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon to the puree. Cook the apple butter, with a lid propped on the roasting pan to allow for evaporation, at 300-350 degrees; stirring every 15-20 minutes to prevent burning.
Cook anywhere from 3-4 hours (or more or less) to where the apple butter will mound nicely on a spoon. 30 minutes before it is done, add 50 Kraft caramels to the mixture and keep stirring until melted and bubbly. If you are halving the recipe, add 25 Kraft caramels.
Ladle the hot apple butter mixture into prepared jars, leaving ½ inch headspace, and process for 10 minutes in a BWB.