Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ginger-Bourbon Apple Butter

For years I hated even the mention of apple butter.  It reminded me of some of my less-than-pleasant growing up experiences.  While most of my pre-20 memory seems to be completely wiped, I have retained a few, generally associated with food or smells.  In this particular case, it's both.

I grew up as the oldest child in a very strange family in the middle of an odd community.  My parents believed that children were best when used as portable dishwashers and vacuum cleaners.  While some siblings believe that our parents did not let us out much because they were afraid of the terrible liberal world corrupting our teeny tiny conservative minds, I have another theory (at least today): if they let us out too often, we'd realize that not all children were mini-cleaning machines.  We might start to question it.  That would not do at all!  And so we lived a sheltered life.

Occasionally, after church in a tiny little town, my parents would let me out of their sight for a few short hours.  For these precious hours I could go stay with a friend and her family.  If I thought that my parents had neglected the memo about slave labor and children, the parents of this poor girl didn't even know the memo existed.  She worked all the time, cooking, caring for children, cleaning -- all tasks I knew and understood well, being responsible for them at my own home -- and it seemed to me even then, at age nine and ten, that she was very under appreciated.  And yet for some reason, every once in a while, our parents would take pity on us and let us spend a Sunday afternoon together.  (Even housemaids of 18th century England received the occasional day off, I suppose.)

The day was always spent at her house, this friend of mine, because her mother couldn't have her too far away.  And so we arrived at their house and would eat lunch after church.  We were inevitably starving, since church service seemed to last nearly three hours (at least to my sense of time -- I have no idea what it was really except that this place had the longest services of anyplace I ever attended), so any food should taste good.  Any food, that is, except the apple butter.  That we had to eat.  On everything.  Every. Single. Time.

Did I mention I hated apple butter for years?  It was not until a few years ago when I started cooking and looking at various baking options that I decided to try apple butter again.  Not on its own, mind you -- just in baked goods.  Eventually I gained courage to try it by itself...and liked it!

My brother gave me a jar of Ginger-Bourbon Apple Butter for Christmas.
 It was a locally made product and it was very good.  I enjoyed it on my daily toast for quite a while, but this morning I ran out!  Oh no!  And so I did what any desperate person would do in my situation: I bought a bazillion pounds of apples and decided to create it on my own.

I read online a bit and then got a few suggestions from friends and set about creating my own recipe.  First off, I knew that a blend of apples was best, so I bought three types and tasted the apples to decide what balance I wanted:
I had to be careful because I love raw apples, but I can't eat more than about two bites or my entire mouth will break out in sores.  Thankfully this is not the case for cooked apples!

After determining the qualities I wanted, I weighed the apples and then put together a recipe based on that.
Honey and I started the process at 8PM.  Lotus had no idea why we were starting a project so late, so she put herself to bed in the kitchen.
The recipe takes time and patience, but I think it's worth it!  Let me know what you think...

Ginger Bourbon Apple Butter Recipe:
5lbs Red Delicious apples
3lbs Pink Lady apples
3lbs Fuji apples
2lbs D'Anjou Pears
1/4 c. water
2 TSBP grated ginger (about a 2" root)
1/2-1 c. blackstrap molasses (depending on taste -- I originally put 2 c. in and it was very molasses-y, which was great for me because I adore molasses, but a bit strong for everyone else)
2 c. dark brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4-1/2 tsp. cloves (depending on taste -- I like lots of spices in everything)
3/4 c. bourbon (we used Old Crow)

I do not have a food strainer.  That would make this process much easier because I would only have to chop apples without having to peel/core.  This process is for people like me who don't have the handy tool.

We cored and peeled the apples and then ran them through the food processor to chop them finely.

Core & Peel


 If you don't have a food processor, just chop as finely as you can & know that the cooking process will last a bit longer.

Take all the chopped bits and place them in a big pot with 1/4 c. water and cook them down to applesauce.  This took about an hour on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Once the apples have cooked down to applesauce, use a blender (we used our immersion blender -- one of the greatest kitchen gadgets of all time) to create a smooth paste.  Add all other ingredients and mix together.
Place the whole mixture in a dutch oven (ours is 6.75qts.) and place in a 250 degree oven overnight -- about 10 hours -- to cook down.  It makes the whole house smell good!
If you don't have a dutch oven but do have a crock pot, that would probably work well, too.  (You can make this in a couple hours on the stove, but you have to constantly stir -- too much work!)

Homemade apple butter on homemade english muffins?  Yes, please!

I generally share my creations at these linky parties.


  1. Oh that looks delish. Your home must have smelled so good too. Thanks for sharing and for joining my linky party.

  2. This looks so delicious! I may try making this soon.

  3. Oh that looks yummy! And what an interesting tale you tell behind it too!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great weekend!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  4. I am all for tasting!I just cooked my apples, without food processor etc. and used fallen apples from my neighbor's tree ( no idea what kind they are). I like the idea of ginger and Bourbon - or any other type of alcoholic drink probably. Next Fall................. (Inger)

  5. hiya wisiting you from debbies newbie party and i just love this receipe tfs hope to see you at mine sometime

  6. I love me some apple butter. Great blog!

  7. That sounds amazing! I like regular apple butter, but adding the ginger and bourbon sounds divine! Thanks for sharing.

  8. I wasn't able to appreciate apple butter until I was older too. :) Lotus sure looks cozy!! Happy to see your creative idea linked up last week at my K.I.S.S. blog bash. Looking forward to seeing what great project you share this week, remember the link is open until tonight @ midnight {CST}.

    Drop by The Tattered Tag


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