In Limburg known as Zeem, Kroet, Kruutje, Sjroap or Ziepnaat. In regular Dutch? Appelstroop. Mostly made from apples that had already fallen from the tree, so nothing would go to waste!
Apple butter is a dark treacle made of apples and sugar. It’s mostly used as a spread on toast, but can also be use as an ingredient in stews to make the pickled meat taste less acidic. This recipe is part of my recipe for Zuurvlees.
You can buy apples for this recipe, but you might also try asking around the neighborhood if someone has an apple tree and doesn’t know what to do with too many apples. The apples don’t need to be pretty, as long as they are tasty! 3 kg apples yielded me one pot of 500 ml apple butter, but it all depends on the juicyness of the apples and the amount of effort you want to put into squeezing all the juice out.
- 3 kg apples (any kind you can find)
- 600 ml water
- 100-200 gr dark caster sugar, depending on the type of apples you have. You can also use any other type of sugar, but that will make a much lighter butter.
Take your apples and remove any ugly spots, worms and other unwanted muck and cut your apples into chunks. Leave the seeds, skin and stems on because these are full of pectin, which is a natural thickening agent. Put the apple chunks and the water into a large pan and simmer for about an hour, until you’ve got a thick apple sauce.
Let it cool to room temperature. Scoop everything into a strainer on top of a bowl or pot, lined with a muslin cloth. You can use a clean tea towel in a pinch. You will end up with apple jelly, which we will boil down to a thick treacle.
Taste, then add sugar until you’re just under the desired sweetness. The jelly is going to be boiled and will get a more concentrated flavour. You can always add more sugar, but never remove it. Put a teaspoon in your fridge or freezer to test the thickness.
After about an hour and half, your treacle should be close to done. Take your cold spoon and dip it into the boiling apple butter. If it has the desired thickness, you can turn off the heat and let it cool. If not, you boil it a little longer and put your spoon back into the fridge.
Sterilise a jar and add the butter. Close the lid, put the pot upside down for about half an hour to press out all the air. When the syrup has cooled you’ll have a treacle-like substance that is thick and spreadable. The closed container of apple butter can be stored in a cool and dry place for months, because of the high amount of sugar. Once opened, it’s best to keep your apple butter in the fridge.