Real apple butter is made outside in a giant copper kettle over an open fire, stirred constantly with a special wooden paddle, by an experienced apple butter person, usually from Kentucky. They are the experts, in my opinion. It cannot be allowed to scorch, or it is inedible. Here is a recipe for those of us who do not have the time, place, or experience to make proper apple butter (factory-made is ghastly.) It is not as good as the real thing, but it serves the purpose,
Five pounds (about ten large) cooking apples, such as Golden Delicious (not Red), Granny Smith, or a combination, which I prefer. Peel, core, and dice the apples, placing them in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add two cups of granulated sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Stir a little to mix it all.
Cover and cook on low for ten hours. Uncover and cook on low heat for another two hours or until desired consistency is reached. Most large chunks of the apple should dissove and the overall effect will be like soft, slightly grainy apple butter. Warm setting on a crockpot will not produce the desired result; use a low setting. Allow the apple butter to cook before you place it in airtight containers. Refrigerate or freeze it until you are ready to use it. It will keep covered and sealed in the fridge for up to a week, in a freezer for up to three months. Thaw it in the fridge before you use it. If you want, before you refrigerate or freeze it, you can mash any lumpy apple bits with a potato masher or puree with an immersion blender. I recommend eating this apple butter on homemade buttermilk biscuits (buttered first, of course), which I believe would meet Aunt Bett's approval. A container of this apple butter makes a welcome hostess gift or a thank-you present to someone.
Dollykat, how nice to hear from you, and you are right, except in my early years, it was made in a huge iron kettle outside, then placed in mason fruit jars. I will certainly try your indoor recipe, the closest one I have to the original method.
Thank you so much, do you have KY relatives?
Thank you, Sharon. I probably have a lot of them. My grandfather (whom I never knew) and his family migrated from Johnson County KY probably about a hundred years ago. His last name was Caudill, and many with that name still live in eastern KY, but unfortunately I don't know any of them. I have had apple butter made by some ladies in Greenup County, and it is the best I've ever tasted. I have a large copper antique apple butter kettle and a paddle, but I haven't the nerve to try to make apple butter in it. The crockpot method is the best I can manage. (I see a typo, in which I typed "cook" instead of "cool." ) I found that recipe in the Cincinnati Enquirer last year. I have read about those stack cakes, but I have never tried to make one. The women of KY were inventive, resourceful, and hard-working ladies who kept their families going, just as your Aunt Bett did. Thanks for your stories.
My maternal aunt married a Caudill, so I have several Caudill relatives. Where I grew up is only about 40 miles from Johnson County, so I am sure the recipes are much the same.
A lot of people dried their apples, then cooked them down to make the stack cakes, so it wasn't always apple butter they used. I just happened to like the apple butter ones best.
My maiden name was Webb, and Mom'[s maiden name was Adams...along with Caudill, those are common eastern KY names.
I hope you sometime try your hand at a stack cake!
Nice talking with you. We might even be related.
We might indeed be related. Seven generations back, my direct ancestor, a Matthew Caudill, married Sarah H. Webb, daughter of a James Webb, sometime in the late 1700's. One of my cousins, older than I, has spent his retirement years tracing geneaology, so I have a pretty complete Caudill family line back to the original immigrant from Scotland. I look forward to more of your stories about Aunt Bett and you.
It is in south-central OH, about 80 miles south of Columbus, ten miles north of Portsmouth. The James Webb in my ancestry was married to an Elizabeth "Lettie" Nelson. James Webb's father was John Webb, Jr., his father was John Webb, Sr., born in Tetbury, Gloucertershire, Eng, died 1711 in Philadelphia, and HIS father was Robert Webb, born in 1615 in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England. I cannot take any credit for all this ancestry digging. My cousin sent all this information. But I have looked many times at the Johnson County genealogy website which is part of http://www.rootsweb.com. It has a lot of information, including old photos, census, cemetery records, and much more. My grandfather's family lived in an area in Johnson County called Barnett's Creek. My grandfather had one brother and four sisters--all gone now, but I have to tell you the girls' names--Cora, Dora, Flora, and Nora. Their parents and the six children all came here en masse in the early 1900's.