I’m declaring October “Cinnamonth,” and kicking it off with harvest-fresh apple butter.
Smooth, cinnamon-spiked apple butter on soft challah was my equivalent of a jelly doughnut when I was growing up. So this year, besides our usual tart Cortlands for pie, we also picked Macouns and McIntoshes (which get mushy when cooked) to whip into apple butter. I’d never made it before, but applesauce is a cinch, so how difficult could it be?
Turns out it’s easy, but shockingly time-consuming. Besides the cinnamon and other spices, complex flavors bloom from that mysterious process called caramelization. While applesauce cooks up in less than a half-hour, apple butter takes a whopping 3½ hours.
This is a job for my superhero, The Pressure Cooker. It can turn a slab of corned beef fork-tender in an hour. It can convert dried, out-of-the-bag navy beans into Southie-worthy Boston Baked Beans in just 45 minutes. And in less time than it takes me to check email, veggies cook up vibrantly colorful, bursting with concentrated flavor and at the top of their nutrient game.
How does The Pressure Cooker do it? Don’t let that low-tech look fool you. I suspect there are some serious quantum mechanics at work. Lock the lid, set the heat, and the contents travel to some cosmic dimension where they cook to perfection in a fraction of earth time. We can’t see inside the pot—much like the box with Schrödinger’s cat—so who knows what kind of spacetime hijinks goes on?
With this recipephany, you’ll get apple butter that will make your fanciest jam jealous. While relatively quick, it is still the longest I’ve ever cooked anything in The Pressure Cooker: 1 hour 10 minutes. But it’s worth every second. It’s out of this world.
Enjoy, and Happy Cinnamonth!
Pressure Cooker Apple Butter
Makes about a pint of dark, deeply flavored apple butter. Doubles well with no change in cooking time.
- 4 large apples (I used Macoun, McIntosh and/or Cortland)
- ¼ cup apple cider or water (Note: Cider freezes well into ice cubes so you can have it on hand any time.)
- 1 teaspoon of white or cider vinegar
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Dash of ground cloves and nutmeg to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Peel, core and roughly chunk apples. Place in pressure cooker with cider, vinegar, sugar and molasses. Bring up to pressure and cook 1 hour.
- Release steam to reduce pressure. Puree the cooked mixture using a food processor or blender.
- Return mixture to pressure cooker, add spices, bring up to pressure and cook 10 minutes.
- Release steam to reduce pressure and stir in the vanilla.
- Let cool a bit, and then pour into a glass pint jar to finish cooling. Store in refrigerator. It also freezes well, so you can enjoy it throughout the year.