Family Recipe Friday – Apple Butter (after a Texas drought)

We had an extreme drought in Texas last year.  The summer was long and extraordinarily hot, marked by a record 90 days of 100+ temperatures in central Texas.

Squirrel in a Hole

Every evening when we went out to check on our plants, we would find a newly dug hole in our flowerbed. We would fill it in and the next day there would be another one – or two. I finally caught the culprit in action – a squirrel trying to stay cool during the heat of the day – belly in a hole. I spent a lot of the summer entertaining myself by trying to sneak a picture of him (and sometimes her) and posting “squirrel in a hole” pictures as my Facebook status.

Loquats

We have two loquat trees in our back yard. They rarely bear much fruit, but this spring was the exception. Loquat trees all over town were laden with fruit. The local paper said we had the drought to thank. After a time of severe stress, a tree may produce an overabundance of fruit to increase the likelihood of survival. We ate our first loquats this year and I made a cobbler which was quite good. The squirrels were really happy too!

Our Apple Tree

Which brings me to our little apple tree. Just like the loquat tree, it has produced an abundance of fruit this year. Plenty for the squirrels to share with us. It is so heavy with fruit that my husband has propped up a branch with a bungee cord so it won’t break.

Our supply of apples reminded me of Grandmother Eveline’s Apple Butter. I sure loved it when she made apple butter – especially if there was homemade bread to go with it! My mom once told me that she remembers her mother (Eveline) cooking apple butter in a large pot on the back of their coal stove.

Sometimes Grandma’s recipes are a bit lean on directions. This is one of those times. Eveline probably didn’t use a recipe and wrote this down when her kids asked her for one.

Eveline (Coates) Hoskins’ Apple Butter

4 quarts apples, peeled and quartered
2-3 cups sugar
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
1  teaspoon cloves

Cook until apples are thoroughly done. Use a potato masher, if necessary. Turn temperature to low. Add sugar and spices. Cook until thick. Seal while hot. Makes about 2 quarts.

So let’s think this through. Eveline assumes that we know to cook the apples with some water. When they are soft, mash them if necessary, add the sugar and spice to make everything nice, and cook on low for a good long time…. as in hours…. and we should probably stir occasionally. And she is certain that we know how to can, so no need to go into specifics.

As for me, I’ll freeze mine.

Off to the kitchen now to get started. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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5/26/2012 Update

I made apple butter as promised. Yummy!  Had some with my breakfast this morning.

I had a hard time finding the conversion for quarts of whole apples to pounds, but finally came up with this equation (can’t verify the accuracy, but it’s what I used):
4 quarts = 8 pounds
My biggest pan only held 6 lb. of quartered apples, so I adjusted the rest of the recipe based on that.
Here’s what I did:

Cooked 6 lb. apples with 3 cups water for about 30 minutes. Added more water as needed. Added 1 3/4 c. sugar, 1 3/4 t. cinnamon, and 3/4 t. cloves. (I just went with the mid-range of the measurements.) The low setting on my electric stove top isn’t low enough to be able to walk away from the stove without the threat of scorching, so I transferred the mashed apples mixed with sugar and spices to my crockpot. Cooked on low in crockpot for about 5 1/2 hours. I read online to test for doneness by putting a spoonful on a saucer. If no liquid spreads out onto the saucer, it’s done. 

2 thoughts on “Family Recipe Friday – Apple Butter (after a Texas drought)

  1. That squirrel pic is so hilarious! Poor little guy (or girl) trying to keep cool. Loquats! We had a loquat tree when I was a girl. Ah…memories!

    • “Splayed out” were the words that came to mind when I took that picture. 🙂 I couldn’t begrudge him digging holes to keep cool. Needed a fresh one every day – like turning over your pillow to the cool side. He’s fat and happy right now.

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