Makes 4-5 pints.
• 4 lbs apples
• 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar (5% acidity)
• 1 1/2 cups water or apple cider
• Around 4 cups sugar
• Freshly squeezed lemon juice of one small lemon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1. Wash, quarter, stem and seed the apples, cutting off any overly damaged parts. Place in a large, non-reactive pot. Add the cider vinegar and the water/apple cider, and turn heat on high, stirring occasionally. Once the liquid begins to boil, lower the heat to medium and continue to stir the apples every five minutes or so until they are soft and mushy. This process generally takes 20-30 minutes.
2. Run the softened apples through a food mill. Measure out the milled apple sauce, and return to the pot. Cook on medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Keep the lid off so that the water can evaporate out.
3. Add 1/2 cup sugar for every cup of apples (4 pounds of apples generally yields about 8 cups of sauce after milling). Add the spices, salt, and the juice of one small lemon. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
4. Stir frequently, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent burning. Cook for around 3 hours until the sauce has darkened and reduced. Test to see if the apple butter is done by dropping a small amount onto a plate. If a liquid ring does not form around the edges, the apple butter is ready to be canned.
5. Sterilize jars and lids by following the guidelines outlined at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Fill jars with the apple butter, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe down the rims and place sterilized lids on the jars, securing tightly with bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, starting your timer after the water begins to boil again.
6. Remove jars and cool on a wire rack for 24 hours. Once cool, remove the bands and check the seals. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months with the bands off to ensure that the seal remains tight.