You'll find this recipe in:
Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery
By: Eliza Leslie
APPLE BUTTER.- This is a compound apples and cider boiled together till of the consistence of soft butter. It is a very good article on the tea-table, or at luncheon. It can only be made of sweet new cider fresh from the press, and not yet fermented.
Fill a very large kettle with cider, and boil it till reduced to one half the original quantity. Then have ready some fine juicy apples, pared, cored, and quartered; and put as many into the kettle as can be kept moist by the cider. Stir it frequently, and when the apples are stewed quite soft, take them out with a skimmer that has holes in it, and put them into a tub. Then add more apples to the cider, and stew them soft in the same manner, stirring them nearly all the time with a stick. Have at hand some more cider ready boiled, to think the apple butter in case you should find it too thick in the kettle.
If you make a large quantity, (and it is not worth while to prepare apple butter on a small scale,) it will take a day to stew the apples. At night leave them to cool in the tubs, (which must be covered with cloths,) and finish next day by boiling the apple and cider again till the consistence is that of soft marmalade, and the colour a very dark brown.
Twenty minutes or half an hour before you finally take it from the fire, add powdered cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to your taste. If the spice is boiled too long, it will lose its flavour.
When it is cold, put it into stone jars, and cover it closely. If it has been well made, and sufficiently boiled, it will keep a year or more.
It must not be boiled in a brass or bell-metal kettle, on account of the verdigris which the acid will collect in it, and which will render the apple butter extremely unwholesome, not to say poisonous.
Apples - sliced, peeled & cored
Powdered cinnamon, nutmeg & clove – to taste
A 4:1 ratio of apples to apple cider works well – that is, for every 4 cups of sliced apples, add 1 cup of cider.
Add the apples & apple cider to a slow cooker and cook on high, stirring occasionally, until the apples break down and it begins to thicken.
Turn the heat to low and stir more frequently, until, as Miss Leslie instructs, your Apple Butter is "the consistence of soft butter" and "the consistence is that of soft marmalade, and the colour a very dark brown". Cooking the apple butter down in my slow cooker took about 20 hours.
Just before the apple butter is finished, add powdered cinnamon, nutmeg and clove to taste.
Besides the fact that apple butter is very delicious, I had an ulterior motive for making this recipe. We made Apple Water at the historic cooking classes that I taught at Nelles Manor Museum this fall, and at the September classes, it broke my heart to toss the apples that were leftover from making this beverage! When I taught this class again in November, I planned ahead and brought a large container so these apples were not wasted.
What is Apple Water? This recipe is typically found in the Invalid Cookery chapter of nineteenth-century cookbooks. Not that I was suggesting that the class attendees were invalids! I chose this recipe because it was a beverage that we could easily make in the time period of the class. It is sometimes called Apple Tea, and that's a more accurate description of what it is. Here are the two historic recipes that we used for inspiration, one of them from Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery, the same cookbook as our Apple Butter recipe:
APPLE WATER. - Pare and slice a fine juicy apple; pour boiling water over it, cover it, and let it stand till cold.
Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery
Eliza Leslie, Philadelphia, 1851
No. 297. Apple Water for sickness.
Cut two large apples in slices, and pour a quart of boiling water on them; or on roasted apples; strain in two or three hours, and sweeten lightly.
The Cook Not Mad
Basically, to make Apple Water or Apple Tea, you slice and core the apples. Leave the skin on, though, because that's where much of the flavour comes from. Place the apples in a container, pour boiling water over them and allow it to steep. The Cook Not Mad suggests a ratio of about 2 cups of water per apple, and if you go the extra step to roast your apples beforehand, you'll get a more flavourful Apple Water. Once you strain the apples from the liquid, taste and decide if you'd like to sweeten with sugar, or leave it as is.
Since my apples were the discarded Apple Water apples, they were softened apples with the skins...so I began making Apple Butter with a step that you will not have to do.
To remove the skins, I decided to cook the apples and cider until mushy on the stove, then push the cooked apples through a sieve with a spatula. This certainly was not easy to do, so please save yourself the headache! Just peel, slice and core your apples and put them in your slow cooker with the apple cider.
After the skins were removed, I finished the cooking process in my slow cooker. Miss Leslie wrote that "If you make a large quantity, (and it is not worth while to prepare apple butter on a small scale,) it will take a day to stew the apples." I started with 25 apples, which amounted to about 17 cups when sliced. The Apple Butter was thick after being in my slow cooker for 20 hours, but I only ended up with between 2 – 3 cups of apple butter!
The nice thing about a slow cooker is that it doesn't require you to stir "nearly all the time with a stick", and you can also cook the apples overnight, instead of "At night leave them to cool in the tubs, (which must be covered with cloths,) and finish next day by boiling the apple and cider again". I started cooking my apples & cider in the evening, so it could cook overnight while I slept. Then when the apples needed to be stirred more frequently as it thickened, I could stir when I was around during the day.
For preserving, Miss Leslie suggests: "When it is cold, put it into stone jars, and cover it closely. If it has been well made, and sufficiently boiled, it will keep a year or more." Our spoiled western digestive systems would probably not appreciate this preservation method, but I didn't have to worry about water bath canning, considering that I had less than 3 cups of Apple Butter.
The day my Apple Butter finished, I was actually invited to two birthday parties, so I walked down the street to my neighbourhood bakery, picked up a loaf of French Bread and took bread & a little container of Apple Butter to the parties. I also kept some for myself, and it was so delicious that I certainly didn't have to worry about preserving it for a year, let alone a week!