A few years ago I read an article in Country Living magazine (I think!) about the ancient tradition of black butter making in Jersey. I’ve been obsessed with making it ever since. I just have to taste some of this stuff! La nier beurre is a traditional farmhouse delicacy made by boiling cider apples over a fire for hours on end, usually up to two days. Once the cider is reduced by half, apples, sugar, lemon, liquorice and spices are added. The mixture is stirred continuously with a large wooden paddle. This usually involves shift work making this a very popular community event following each winter crop. The National Trust for Jersey and Jersey Heritage host annual events that revolve around the Black Butter making process.
Anyway I don’t exactly have two days to make black butter. I also don’t think my neighbours would like to sit through the night with me stirring a giant pot of bubbling apple puree and drinking cider into the small hours of the morning. How amazingly brilliant if they did?!
So I’ve found a simpler recipe for apple butter. It’s more of a nut brown spiced spread than a dark licquorice laced paste but it’s amazing! I love it and am thinking up loads of different uses for it. Over the holiday season it will make really easy and quick little canapes. A teaspoon of this in a mini buttery pastry case makes an instant bite-size apple tart or a dollop of this stuff on a sultana studded scone or served with morning pancakes. I can think of a million uses for it! So here’s the recipe I used. I halved the amount of sugar that was recommended and used Irish eating apples that I got at my local farmers market in Midleton. I used Ballyhoura Cider apple vinegar and the lemon zest and juice is a must! Really beautiful. 4lbs of apples made four regular jars and I already have plans to make vanilla apple butter and more spiced versions. It’s a big hit with the smaller members of the family and a great alternative to more sugar laden jams or spreads.