Thursday, November 18, 2010

Apples to Applesauce to Applebutter

Remember my recent post named 'Not all homemade stuff is cheaper' in which, I had written that making applesauce at home is not worth it. Well, I knew the process of making applesauce since I had made it when my kids were babies. You have to simmer the apples on stove top for almost an hour or till they are very very tender. The cost of gas itself was not a motivation to make it at home when I wrote the post.
I did an experiment. I took 2 pounds of apples (I had bought them for 59 cents per pound). Assuming not too much of weight loss happens when you cook them (since you are adding some liquid to it, it almost remains the same with a negligible weight loss. But you do have to calculate the core and peel weight though), I figured out that if I can reduce the cooking time to 10 - 15 minutes, then it will be cheaper to make it at home if I bought apples at a very good price.
I peeled and cored the apples, cooked them in pressure cooker. It was done in 12 minutes or so. Mashed them up to make applesauce.
This experiment continued... to make apple butter. I know not all the countries' grocery stores have apple butter on the shelves. Process of making apple butter is not complex at all. But, cooking time is about 8 hours. I figured out a way to reduce it so that everyone can make apple butter at home easily. Interested? Read on...

To make applesauce:
Apples - 2 pounds ( about 6 medium sized apples. I had a mixture of macintosh, ginger gold)
Apple Juice - 1/4 - 1/2 cup (If you have apple cider, use that)
Lemon juice - 2 TBSP

To make applebutter:
Resulting applesauce from above
Brown sugar - 1/3 cup or to taste
Clove powder - 1/2 tsp (you could reduce it to 1/4 tsp to have milder spice taste)
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp (you could reduce it to 1/4 tsp to have milder spice taste)

Take enough water in a bowl that fits in your pressure cooker. Those who do not have pressure cooker will have to do the hard way in a stock pot. Add lemon juice. Peel and core the apples and cut them into big chunks. Add these apple chunks to the bowl with water. When you are done cutting all the apples, drain the water leaving some in the bowl. Add apple juice to just barely cover the apple pieces. You can just discard a little water and cook it in water itself. Cook the apples in pressure cooker for 1 whistle. When cool, mash with a potato masher. If you are looking for applesauce, you can stop at this point. You will have to freeze the applesauce or refrigerate and use up within a week. Another alternative is to can the applesauce which, I have no knowledge about.
Now comes the fun part of making apple butter. If you keep cooking the apple sauce for about 8 hours on slow fire and add sugar and spices, you get apple butter. But, as I said, I was not about to spend 8 hours of time cooking the applesauce to make apple butter. If you owned a crock pot, you can leave it in that and set the timer for 8 hours. Since I do not own a crock pot, (May be I should get one. Mmmmmmmm??) I speed-ed up this process and made it in the microwave. Place the applesauce in a deep and wide dish and microwave at intervals of 3 minutes. Stirring after every interval. When half of the water content has evaporated (it took about 3 - 4 intervals in my not so powerful microwave), add brown sugar, spices and stir. Keep microwaving till all the water has evaporated. Keep stirring in between. It took a total of about 25 - 30 minutes in my microwave. To test for the doneness, when you put a spoon of apple butter on a plate, you should not see any water separating around it.
Yield of my experiment with 2 pounds of apples was almost 4 cups of apple sauce which when turned into apple butter measured to 1 1/2 cups of apple butter.

Cost comparison:
A bottle of apple sauce which has 5 cups of applesauce is about 2 dollars. So, I wouldn't say it is very economical to make it at home unless you get apples for a very good price.

A bottle of apple butter which has 3 cups of apple butter is about 2.87 (depends on the brand). I got 1 1/2 cups of apple butter for probably 2 dollars if I consider the cost of brown sugar, electricity and gas expenses. (May be not since I don't know how much electricity is used for microwaving for 30 minutes) But one thing is for sure, I probably am not going to buy apple butter any more.

Since I have not used any preservatives or too much of sugar, I do not know how long the apple butter will keep in the refrigerator. I am planning to use it up within about 10 days unless I decide to freeze it.

When you have made apple butter, you can either use it as jam and spread on toast or go crazy like me and bake all the following goodies and come up with your own recipes.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls with apple butter
Apple Butter Spice Bread (Egg less)
Sourdough Vegan apple butter cake


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  1. Thats really an interesting post Champa! You have not accounted for the time and dedication in the comparision:) just kidding!!The satisfaction of making things at home is simply grt..whatever the cost difference( unless it is unexptionally huge)

  2. This is such an informative champa. And I just loved the recipe:)

  3. Lovely post. Making at home is fun even though its time and gas consuming.

  4. Wow, great job on being so committed in trying to reduce the time and figure it out.

  5. Awesome job, thanks for sharing the apple butter and sauce..

  6. awesome....thanks for sharing how to make these in less time!!

  7. Many years ago I made apple butter in the pressure cooker but can't remember exactly how. Still looking. And what is one whistle on the pressure cooker?

    1. The pressure cooker have something on the top to make sound. They first start hissing and then blow a continuous sound. That's what I meant when I said one whistle. The pressure cookers they make in India have a nice whistle blowing ones. Hope it helps. If you don't have one, let it blow steam nicely for about 10 minutes and then turn it off. It should be good.


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