22 December, 2014

Jonagold Apple Butter with No Sugar Added

This is a slow-cooker recipe for preparing Apple Butter to be stored in the refrigerator (for one to two months) or freezer (for longer time). No sugar is added. 

Jonagold Apples were developed in Geneva, NY  (in the Finger Lakes area) and are a cross between the Jonathan and Golden Delicious apple varieties. The US Apple Association describes Jonagold apples as having "a unique honey-tart flavor and crispy, juicy, nearly yellow flesh."

Jonagold Apple Butter ingredients (7)
Makes four (1/2-pint) jars
5.5-lbs fresh premium Jonagold Apples (about ten large)
1 large fresh Granny Smith Apple
Non-stick canola cooking spray
1.5 cups (12-oz US / 355ml) Hays Orchard Original Fresh Pressed Apple Cider (No Artificial Flavors or Colors, No Sugar Added, No Fat or Corn Syrup)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Freshly-squeezed juice of one-half Meyer lemon, strained

Notes:  2014 Christmas gifts. Hays Orchard, 3622 Middleton Rd., Columbiana, OH 44408 www.haysorchard.com

Tools & Equipment
Large bowl and clean tea towel
Citrus juicer and small strainer
4-quart (16 cups) capacity slow-cooker
Clean, dry microfiber absorbent towel (or other absorbent towel) for wiping moisture from crock-pot
Oven mitt or pot holder for protecting hand while wiping moisture from crock-pot
Chilled plate
Conical Strainer & Pestle or Fine Mesh Open Kitchen Large Strainer (optional, for silky texture)
Four (0.5-pint /237ml) sterilized glass canning jars with lids and screw bands
Paper towels
Labels (adhesive or some you make from card stock)

Some Tips
  • Even if you are skeptical about the No-Sugar approach, let the natural flavors of this Jonagold Apple Butter develop during the slow-cooking process. 
    1. Wait until the Jonagold Apple Butter is "done" before adjusting the sweetness;
    2. Taste. Add other ingredients just a little at a time;
    3. If  you prefer the Jonagold Apple Butter to have more sweetness, decide whether to add a little honey, granulated brown sugar or a sugar substitute; 
    4. If you think the finished Jonagold Apple Butter is too sweet, then add a bit more strained fresh lemon juice for tartness;
    5. Then, either way, stir and taste; repeat until the flavor pleases you.
    6. Let the Jonagold Apple Butter stand in refrigerator for at least twenty-four (24) hours to let the flavors mingle before serving. 
  • Safety first! Unlike many slow-cooker recipes, you will periodically remove the cover to gather the condensation that has collected. 
    1. Be mindful the rising steam can cause burns. When removing the cover, point it away from yourself and others;
    2. Use a clean, dry microfiber absorbent towel to soak up the condensation on the lid's underside; 
    3. Then, wear a protective oven mitt or use a pot holder to grasp a microfiber absorbent towel folded in quarters (so the corners don't drop into the hot mixture) to cautiously dab liquid away from the lip of the crock-pot which will be extremely hot, too.
    1. The mixture is thick; and  
    2. Has a dark color like prunes (I compare to dried dates); and 
    3. A spoonful of the mixture dropped onto a chilled plate that you then refrigerate for one (1) minute, stays in a mound, and does not run when you tilt the plate.  
  • You may cook this Jongold Apple Butter in two (2) or more sessions. 
    1. Between sessions, cool the mixture by uncovering it for a few hours, and 
    2. For longer time periods, refrigerate it. 
    3. Since the Jonagold Apples took quite awhile to cook down, and much longer than recipes I researched, I divided preparations into three (3) cooking sessions, as indicated below.

Session One:  Cut and cook down apples
Peel, core and remove any bruised or brown parts of the apples. Then, cut apples into evenly-sized slices and place them in large bowl. Cover bowl with clean tea towel to deter browning of apples. 

Lightly apply nonstick canola cooking spray to the inside of  4-quart crock-pot. 

Pour the apple cider over apple slices; toss lightly to moisten all pieces. Pour apple mixture into the prepared crock-pot. 

Cover and cook on the High setting until the mixture begins to boil. Then, carefully remove cover and use the microfiber towel to begin wiping away moisture (Some Tips above).

Replace the (dry) cover and cook until the apple mixture is "done" (Some Tips above), stirring at least every 1.5 to 2.0-hours. Every time you stir, use the microfiber absorbent towel to wick away moisture from the cover's underside and from the lip of the crock-pot, which will be extremely hot.

The Jonagold Apples took quite awhile to cook down. After twenty-four (24) hours, I turned off the crock-pot to bring the mixture to room temperature to take a break from monitoring.

Session Two:  Spice and cook down 
Add the cinnamon, allspice and strained fresh lemon juice. Use an immersible blender to purée.

Cover and cook on High setting for about eight (8) hours, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Continue using the microfiber towel to wick away moisture.

Then, remove the cover and continue cooking on the High setting until "done," about four (4) hours more.

When the Apple Butter is done, taste for sweetness (Some Tips above). Purée the Apple Butter or press it through a food mill using the fine disk. Then, if you want a silky texture, also press the puréed Apple Butter through the Conical Strainer (or Fine Mesh Open Kitchen Large Strainer).

Session Three:  Ladle into sterilized jars and refrigerate or freeze
Reheat the Jonagold Apple Butter and ladle it into the sterilized jars. Use a funnel to keep the rims of the jars clean. For freezer storage, leave one-inch (1-inch US / 2.54 cm) headroom.

Dip folded paper towel into boiling hot water and wipe clean the jar rims.

Place the disc portion of the lid on top of the jar. Using only moderate firmness, screw on the ring band; don't tighten it too much.

Wipe clean the cooled jars before attaching a label. Refrigerate or freeze.

Page Last Modified 15 September 2015

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