Since retiring, I have more time to tend to our 75 apple trees and to experiment in the kitchen. I came up with this old-fashioned apple butter after some trial and error. The red-hot candies make it unique.—Bill Elliott, Urbana, Missouri
15 pounds early-season apples (Gala, Jonathan and/or Cortland), peeled and quartered
3/4 cup cider vinegar
5-1/3 cups packed brown sugar
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup red-hot candies
1 cup boiling water
In a stockpot, combine apples and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 30-40 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Process in batches in a food processor until blended. Return all to pan.
Add brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt, extract, cloves and allspice. Dissolve red-hots in boiling water; stir into apple mixture.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 2 hours or until mixture reaches a thick, spreadable consistency.
Remove from heat. Carefully ladle hot mixture into eight hot sterilized 1-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot mixture. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars; screw on bands until fingertip tight.
Place jars into canner with simmering water, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil; process for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool.
The processing time listed is for altitudes of 1,000 feet or less. For altitudes up to 3,000 feet, add 5 minutes; 6,000 feet, add 10 minutes; 8,000 feet, add 15 minutes; 10,000 feet, add 20 minutes.