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The Recipe of the Week from The Happy Chef: Good Ol’ Virginia Apple Butter

Well, Grandparents ARE a great thing! I have so many fond memories of my grandparents. My mother’s parents actually lived here in Roanoke, long before I lived here. I remember riding my big wheel in front of their house on the sidewalks of Raleigh Court. Those memories are wonderful. Every year my children go apple picking with their grandpa and grandma who visit from the mid-west in late September. What a wonderful memory for them – a beautiful time of year and a special tradition with people who love them so much and just want to spend time with them. We are so blessed with all our sets of grandparents. There is my dad (Grandaddy) who shares magic tricks and lots of laughs; Nana and Pop Pop who play and play and play some more; and grandpa and grandma who visit from far away and pick apples and teach us to sew; and then there is my mom, Grandmommy, who we always remember and honor, who loved us all so much and watches over us each day. Happy Grandparents Day to all of you and thank you for all the love you give. This week’s recipe is a new one for me. I plan on trying it when Grandpa and Grandma come to visit.

4 lbs of good cooking apples

1 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups water

Sugar (about 4 cups, see cooking instructions)


2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon allspice

Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

– Cut the apples into quarters, without peeling or coring them (much of the pectin is in the cores and flavor in the peels), cut out damaged parts.

– Put them into large pot, add the vinegar and water, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cook until apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

– Ladle apple mixture into a chinois sieve (or foodmill) and using a pestle force pulp from the chinois into a large bowl below. Measure resulting puree. Add 1/2 cup of sugar for each cup of apple pulp. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add a dash of salt, and the cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, lemon rind and juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

– Cook uncovered in a large, wide, thick-bottomed pot on medium low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Scrape the bottom of the pot while you stir to make sure a crust is not forming at the bottom. Cook until thick and smooth when a bit is spooned onto a cold plate and allowed to cool (1 to 2 hours). You can also cook the purée on low heat, stirring only occasionally, but this will take much longer as stirring encourages evaporation. (Note the wider the pan the better, as there is more surface for evaporation.)

– There are several ways to sterilize your jars for canning. You can run them through a short cycle on your dishwasher. You can place them in a large pot (12 quart) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don’t touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Or you can rinse out the jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.

– Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal. If you plan to store the apple butter un-refrigerated, make sure to follow proper canning procedures. Before applying the lids, sterilize the lids by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying the lids. Use a hot water bath for 10 minutes to ensure a good seal.

As an alternative to stove cooking the puree you can cook uncovered in a microwave, on medium heat to simmer, for around 30 minutes.

-Makes a little more than 3 pint jars.

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