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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The great news about apple butter!

I have some great news about apple butter! And at this point, you're thinking one of two things. One, what is apple butter? Or two, this woman needs to get a life. But seriously, if you haven't tried apple butter, you should. Immediately.

I live in Charleston, South Carolina now, but I grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania -- home of the Pennsylvania Dutch, or Amish. Lancaster was such an interesting place to grow up, but I wouldn't exactly call it "svelte." While farming is a huge part of the culture, Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine is typically full fat all the way. I grew up with a lot of diet saboteurs (not in our house, of course -- my mom is a svelte cook, too!). There was "shoofly pie," whoopie pies, funnel cakes and chicken corn soup. True county fair food. Delicious! Chicken pot pie was my favorite. Only the chicken pot pie I grew up with didn't have a crust or resemble a pie at all. My grandmother made the best, even though our family isn't Pennsylvania Dutch. It was more like chicken and dumplings. Even the word "dumpling" sounds fattening, doesn't it? Sort of like "chow chow," which, ironically, isn't bad for you -- it's pickled vegetables! I still won't eat it. Chow chow. It makes me giggle.

But apple butter was the one thing I could never resist when we went to any type of "family restaurant." No need for butter or jelly. Apple butter is amazing, but I've never seen it anywhere but home. And for all these years, I just assumed it was bad for me. Sounds bad, doesn't it?

I hadn't thought about apple butter in years. I was talking to a colleague the other day who was familiar with the area where I grew up. He brought up apple butter and we both laughed about how it was such a guilty pleasure. Obviously, my next move was to revamp it.

So what's the good news? I did some digging, and I learned that apple butter doesn't have to be bad at all. In fact, most of the recipes I found were quite light on the sugar and didn't have any fat. I had assumed....

So what is apple butter? Basically, it's just reduced applesauce with a few extra spices. You can make your own apple sauce if you're feeling motivated, but I wasn't. I just grabbed a jar -- an unsweetened jar! -- of all natural applesauce and off I went. This is so easy -- quite possibly the easiest recipe I'll ever post on here. I now have a new refrigerator staple that is light (only 10 calories per teaspoon!) and reminds me of home. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Apple Butter
Yields 1 cup

4 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot, tilt the lid slightly so steam can escape, and cook on low for 8 hours. That's it!

The Svelte Gourmet: A Month of Main Courses cookbook is available at www.thesveltegourmet.com/products.html. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Is it really that unusual in other parts of the US? I grew up in Florida and North Carolina and remember apple butter quite well. In fact, I'm happy to see this recipe, since I had a craving for the stuff a while back, but can't find it living now in the Netherlands.

I don't suppose there's a stovetop option, since I no longer have a crockpot?

The Svelte Gourmet - Jenny Fox said...

Apple butter was popular in colonial America, in addition to Pennsylvania Dutch culture. So you probably can find it in other parts of the US. I've just never looked, I guess! I just read that in the Netherlands, they have something similar knows as Appelstroop -- maybe you can look for that!

Since the Amish clearly don't use electric crock pots, yes, you can make it without one! It needs to be cooked for hours and hours, stirred constantly (it used to be made in copper pots). The crock pot is great because it doesn't burn and you don't have to stir it. Over direct heat, you would. Personally, I would rather buy a small crock pot than stand over a stove for 8 hours. =)

Anonymous said...

Ha! Maybe I'll try the appelstroop first, although that's more of a syrup than a buttery spread and I think it might be much sweeter. Still, it would be easier than stirring for hours and my kitchen is sadly short of storage space for a crockpot, even a small one. Thanks for the response!

The Svelte Gourmet - Jenny Fox said...

I also just read that in colonial times, they used to have apple butter parties, where they would each take turns at the copper pot stirring with a giant paddle. Could be the next trend in summer get-togethers? =) I imagine this would be a great arm workout!