A lot of the online recipes have you do things in the slow cooker, and in hindsight, that would probably be a great idea but I wanted to do it now and didn't want to wait. So I peeled, cored and chopped up my apples, threw them in a pot with some unsweetened apple cider and (wait for it) instead of adding sugar, added some chopped, pitted dates to the mixture. I mean, how awesome would that taste? It would be like an apple date square mixture that you could eat with a spoon!
According to one recipe, I dutifully brought this to a boil, turned the heat down and simmered, whilst stirring occasionally, for about half an hour. I then took it off the heat and mushed it up with my immersion blender. (Of course, you could put the whole lot into a blender and do it that way, but I'm all for simplicity and the least amount of dishes).
The rest of the recipe was kind of vague about turning that into apple butter, it just said to cook until it reached the right consistency. While I had it back on a low heat, I looked up what that meant. (Hindsight, should have looked that up before) One to two hours, while stirring occasionally. Huh.
Thankfully I had already done the laundry and the hubby was out, so I put on an audio novel, grabbed a chair, added the rest of the ingredients and proceeded to stir every few minutes for about 2 hours, till it looked like this:
The house smelled pretty damn wonderful too, but my hand was cramping with so much stirring. Oh well, now I know for next time. The recipe I came up with:
Spiced Apple Date Butter
6 pounds apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups unsweetened apple cider
2 cups chopped, pitted dates
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
Prepare jars, canner and lids.
In a large stainless steel pot, combine apples, apple cider and dates. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until mixture is soft, about 30 minutes.
Using your immersion blender (or if you like making a bigger mess, use your blender), puree mixture until a uniform texture is achieved. Try not to liquefy it. Add the remaining ingredients to the mixture and bring back to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce heat to low and stir frequently for about 1 to 2 hours (I did 2) until the mixture is nice and thick.
Ladle your hot butter into hot jars, leave about 1/4 inch headspace, removing air bubbles and adjusting as necessary. Wipe rim and center the lid on top, screw the band down until fingertip tight. Place jars in canner, bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes, making sure jars are covered with water. After 10 minutes turn off heat, take the lid off of the canner off and let sit another 5 minutes. Remove jars and let cool slowly at room temperature before storing.
Yields anywhere from 5 to 8 250 mL (8 ounce) jars, depending on how thick you got it. I got 5 jars from mine.
I have to say, it tastes pretty darn fabulous if I do say so myself. I look forward to having it on thick bakery fresh bread toasted up on a cold winter day. You could probably also use it in date squares if you really wanted to, or just eat it by the spoon slowly savouring every yummy bit.