Rosemary and Vanilla Apple Butter
Time again for the monthly post I do together with Sophia and Simi, this time it is about preserves and such stuff. I have to add ‘such stuff’ because I don’t think apple butter really is a preserve but it is somehow and as we don’t have any real rules I think I am allowed. When I think of my past Swedish autumns, I see apples and apple trees. I don’t think there are many gardens in Sweden without at least one apple tree growing in it, I can almost feel the sweet smell of humid leaves and half rotten apples when I sit here and write. When I was quite small I lived well beyond the polar circle where there were no apple trees to be seen but when we moved south and my parents bought our first house, there were eight apple trees in the garden so I got my fill of them. The strange thing is that I cannot remember ever eating any of the apples from the trees but I do remember the huge batches of apple juice the apples produced. In Sweden there are special places that open in the autumn where you bring your apples and they make apple juice and that my parents did, not that I had much opportunity to drink any of the juice because they immediately made wine of it, I grew up with the music of a constant plopping and plipping from the various demijohns that were kept in the kitchen. I never tasted their wine and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t good but as long as they were happy playing around with it why not. And they hardly would have listened to me anyway.
Apple butter, or äppelmos as it is called, is obviously quite quite important in Sweden, with all those apple trees you can’t only make apple juice, you make apple cakes, baked apples or you cook apple butter and eat it on pancakes, on porridge, use in pies and I don’t know what during the year to come. I always liked eating it as it is, spoon after spoon.
We have one apple tree, it is a bit neglected because I’m such a reluctant pruner but it grows diligently and generally behaves itself (not like the stupid apricot tree that always blossomed in the wrong season and then died) and I like it quite a lot. I like when things take care of themselves and do what I want them to do, like my dog for example. But he is not a thing of course. The well-behaved apple tree produced an infinite number of apples this year and not only were they many but also particularly good so I have been eating and eating and when Sophia came up with this month’s theme, it was clear I was going to make something with apples; I certainly didn’t want to make wine, no more plips and plops here, so it had to be äppelmos. My apple butter has a wonderful pink colour because Annurca apples are very red and I cooked the apples without peeling them. I freeze my apple butter which means that I don’t need to think of how long it preserves so I’m free to add less sugar which suits me fine because my apples are quite sweet.
Rosemary and Vanilla Apple Butter: Core and cut 1 kg/2,2 lb apples into pieces, put them in a pan together with 300 ml/1,25 cup of sugar, a sprig of fresh rosemary and a vanilla pod split in two. Bring it to the boil, add a little water if needed, and then reduce the heat and let it simmer until the fruit is completely cooked and easily mashed. You need to stir very often. Take out the rosemary sprig and the vanilla pod, I suggest you scrape out the vanilla seeds and add to the apples. I sieved cooked apples through a food mill so I got rid of the peel but I don’t always do that, sometimes I use a mixer because the peel/skin adds a nice texture to the apple butter.