Spiced apple butter is great on toast instead of jam or plain butter, and it jazzes up plain yogurt quite nicely. Any variety of apple will work, so use your favorites. A combination of apples, or even apples and pears, makes for a more complex flavor. Try experimenting with other spices as well for a different taste: ginger and Chinese 5 Spice Powder complement apples beautifully. If you use only sweet apples rather than a mix of sweet and tart, decrease the sugar slightly to maintain a balance of flavors.
Gala or Fuji apples (peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dices, 3 cups)
Granny Smith or Pippin apples (peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice, 2-1/2 cups)
star anise pod
freshly ground or grated nutmeg
cider or unsweetened apple juice
fresh lemon juice
Combine the apples, spices, and cider in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook at a slow boil for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and lemon juice, stir to combine, and continue cooking over medium heat (at a slow boil) until the mixture thickens and the apples become very soft, 25 to 35 minutes.
Let the mixture cool for 15 minutes, then remove the star anise and discard. Purée in a food processor or food mill. Alternately, mash the apple butter with a potato masher if you like a bit of texture.
Store in a clean container, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If you'd like to keep it longer, freeze the apple butter or preserve it in sterilized jars according to standard canning procedures.
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