I love apple butter and I used to make it just like thickened applesauce, but no more! I use my own variation of Carmelized Pear Butter from my sister's recipes. It makes all the difference in the world to have that carmelized sugar and ginger taste. Yummy on just about anything from toast to
ice cream to pancakes.
simply grate fresh ginger on a fine grater, place the grated ginger pulp into a double or triple layer of cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice. if your ginger is nice and fresh, it will give you lots of juice.
(you can also use this juice to add to marinades)
MOST OF THE COOKING TIME FOR THIS RECIPE IS NOT ACTIVE COOKING, JUST REDUCING THE MIXTURE.
Core and cut up apples, leaving unpeeled. Place in a 6 qt Dutch oven with 1/4 c water to keep from burning and cook over medium high heat until very soft, stirring occasionally.
Put the cooked apples through a food mill or press through a strainer to separate the pulp from the skins.
For each 4 c of pulp, add lemon, cinnamon, cloves and ginger juice (start with the smaller amount of ginger juice and add more if you want more ginger taste.) Hold in a mixing bowl until needed.
Rinse the Dutch oven and dry. For each 4 c of pulp, place 1 c of sugar in the pan over medium heat and carmelize it, stirring constantly, to medium/dark golden. (Watch carefully to make sure you do not burn the sugar especially if you have the heat higher.)
Add the apple pulp mixture to the Dutch oven, stir well. (Be careful, as the carmelized sugar is very hot and the apple mixture will harden it around the edges. You may (probably will) find large lumps of sugar in the pulp, but they will dissolve during the cooking/ reducing process.
It may "Pop" bubbles to the surface which can burn you.) Cover and cook on low heat until the sugar has completely re-disolved into the apple. Stir occasionally. Turn to Medium low and cook until reduced and thickened to your preference. To test the thickness, just take a small spoonful out and let it cool. It should mound up on the spoon somewhat. This will give you an idea of the texture of the finished apple butter.
Freeze in small freezer containers or can in half pint to pint jars and process as per current instructions for apple butter. (See the Ball Canning book for water bath timing)