Grandmother made apple butter for two important reasons that are just as valid today: it tastes exceptionally good and it makes use of the sound parts of culls or windfalls. Once apple butter cooked for long hours in big black kettles over fires built in the yard. Someone had to stir it constantly so neighbors came over to take their turns at the stir-ring and to visit. Our Oven Apple Butter needs little stirring (about once every half-hour, three times in all). And its taste matches that of the most delicious apple butters of yesteryear.
Oven Apple Butter
Delicious on hot biscuits or rolls
2 qt. water
2 tblsp. Salt
6 lb. apples, covered, peeled and sliced
2 qt. sweet cider
3 ½ to 4 c. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground allspice
Combine water and salt. Add apples. Drain well but do not rinse slices. Put through food chopper, using finest blade. Measure pulp and juice (there should be 2 qt.). Combine with cider. Place in large enamel pan. Center pan in moderate oven (350°F). Let mixture simmer about 3 to 3 ½ hours until cooked down about half and is thick and mushy. Stir thoroughly every half hour. Put mixture through sieve or food mill; it should yield 2¼ to 2½ qt.
Combine sugar and spices; add to sauce and return to oven. Continue simmering about 1½ hours or until thick, stirring every half hour. To test, pour small amount onto cold plate. If no liquid oozes around edge, apple butter is cooked. Pour into hot jars; adjust lids and process in boiling water bath (212°F) 10 minutes. Remove jars and complete seals unless closures are self-sealing kind. Makes 2 qt.
--Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook, revised edition (1972)