Well in typical midwestern fashion, we had some magical crisp fall days, followed by extreme heat (accompanied by complaints by those ready to bust out their sweaters and boots), followed up by extreme cold. We’ve already seen snow dusting the top of cars (although not much), and add to that a week in Mexico and a week in San Francisco and I find myself looking around outside for Fall and only seeing early signs of winter. That’s not all bad though. With Fall and Winter come warm baking spices and a scroll through Instagram shows that it’s obvious that cardamom (one of my fave baking spices long before it got trendy) is having a moment and I am HERE FOR IT.
Cardamom really is having a moment right now. I have memories of it in baked Christmas cookies my mom would make every year for gifts, and later– while I was just starting to cook, Elise Bauer’s Glazed Lemon Bread with touches of cardamom and honey was a revelation. I made that cake countless times for friends having new babies. Cardamom’s aroma is extremely fragrant and unmistakable. It plays well in baked goods, and even savory applications. And it REALLY gets along well with apples.
As I’ve mentioned before, my cousin bought an orchard a few years ago and we have found ourselves…rich with apples this season. Last time we were there, we ended up with a crate of beautiful Red Delicious apples. Unfortunately for Red Delicious, beauty is about as far as it goes. While a Red Delicious plucked off a tree is better than any Red Delicious found in a grocery store, it still leaves a lot to be desired. I figured I would take all these apples which are unfit for baking in a pie or eating out of hand, spice the hell out of them, cook them down and stock my basement with jars of delicious apple butter for the long winter. Like a god damned pioneer.
Apple butter itself is so easy to make it’s a little ridiculous. Because I had half a bushel of apples in my kitchen, I made huge batches and then canned them, but you can make a single batch and it will keep in the fridge for up to 2 months. As with all Apple Butters, it’s perfect on toast, slathered on a biscuit, or hell, even with a spoon. I won’t judge.
Cardamom Spiced Apple Butter
This makes 4 8-oz jars of apple butter, and is easily halved if you don’t have bushels of apples invading your kitchen!
5 lbs red delicious apples(or any variety you feel isnt good enough for snacking or baking)
1 C Apple Cider Vinegar
2 C Apple Cider
1 C Light Brown Sugar
3 C Granulated Sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
Core and dice apples into 1 inch chunks (no peeling needed!). Add to large stockpot with cider vinegar and cider and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft and starting to break down, about 30 minutes.
Once apples are nice and soft, process through food mill into large bowl. You’ll have delightful pink applesauce at this point. Add both sugars, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and salt and stir until combined. Return to stockpot set over low heat and cook slowly, for about an hour until mixture thickens and darkens. To test consistency, stick a small plate in the freezer for 5 minutes. Pull it out of the freezer and dollop a tsp or two onto the plate. Take your finger and drag it through the apple butter. It should leave a clear trail. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Carefully portion into jars and fingertip tighten. Apple butter will keep in the fridge for up to 2 months (not like it will last that long….)