A couple of weekends ago, Scott and I dashed into Costco for toilet paper, dishwasher tabs, and 10 pounds of sugar. While we managed to stick pretty close to the list, a two pound bag of fresh cranberries managed to find it way into our cart.
As is so often the case, I didn’t have a plan for these cranberries, but I felt certain that inspiration would strike. After a little reflection, a thought occurred. I’d never made a fruit butter combining apples and cranberries. It was time to give it a shot.
So I did a bit of fridge diving and came up with six pounds of apples that needed to be used that could join my cranberries in a big stock pot.
I quartered the apples, tumbled in the cranberries, and added a cup of cranberry juice I happened to have in the fridge (though you could just as easily use water).
I put the pot on the stove, brought it to a boil, and reduced the heat so that it would simmer for awhile. Once the apples were tender and the cranberries had all popped, I pulled the pot off the heat and let it cool until I could work it through a food mill without burning myself.
I took the milled puree and poured it into my slow cooker and reduced it over the course of three 8-hour sessions, until it was quite thick and reduced by a little more than half.
Finally, I took the reduced apple cranberry sludge and scraped it into a smaller pot. Once I had some depth, I used an immersion blender to puree it smooth. I added some sugar to taste, brought it back to temperature (I’d let it cool down overnight), and canned it in an assortment of jars (I’m running low on empties and so it was a bit of a scrounge to find appropriate vessels).
The finished butter is both tangy and just sweet enough. It’s really smooth and would be an excellent Thanksgiving-time condiment.
- 6 pounds apples, washed and quartered
- 2 pounds cranberries, rinsed
- 1 cup cranberry juice or water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus more to taste
- Combine the apples, cranberries and liquid in a large stock pot. Place a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil. Once it is bubbling away nicely, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, until the apples soften and the cranberries burst.
- Once the fruit is very tender, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool to lukewarm.
- Work the cooked apples and cranberries through a food mill to separate out the skins and seeds.
- Pour the milled fruit into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours with the lid cocked to allow the steam to escape. Stir occasionally.
- When the first round of cooking is done, stir the fruit and cook for another 8 hours. If your slow cooker runs hot, use a shorter length of time.
- The fruit butter is done when it is quite thick and has reduced by about half.
- Scrape the finished butter into a smaller pot and use an immersion blender to puree it smooth. Add the sugar to taste (this butter naturally has enough sugar and acid to be safe to can without the additional sugar. It's simply there to help smooth out the cranberries).
- Prepare a boiling water bath and enough jars to hold 8 half pints.
- Funnel the finished butter into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a chopstick to work out the air bubbles that will get trapped (and with a butter this thick, you will have trapped air bubbles).
- Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
- When the time is up, slide the pot off the heat and remove the lid. Let the jars cool slowly for ten minutes in the water. When that time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.