Fruit butters are a great way to use an over abundance of almost any kind of fruit. This recipe covers making fruit butter from apples and grapes. The recipe also yields fruit juice that can be used to make a fine jelly as well. Making this recipe is pretty much a whole day affair counting the preparations and cleanup afterwards, but it is well worth the effort. With a yield of 4 to 5 pints of apple butter and 4 to 6 quarts of juice, one recipe will stock a pantry well. Other fruits such as pears or peaches can also be used for making fruit butters.
Gather the needed canning supplies and recipe ingredients.
Pint sized jars, rings, lids, a wide mouthed funnel, a pair of hot jar lifts, a magnetic lifter for jar lids, a large 8 to 10 quart stainless steel pot to cook the fruit in, another large pot for the hot water bath, a smaller 1 quart pot for sterilizing the rings and lids.
Cheesecloth about a yard and a half, a fruit sieve or press, a colander that will fit over one of the large pots for draining juices, a 4 quart pot to cook the apple butter in or a slow cooker, and both slotted and unslotted large stainless steel spoons.
8 quarts grapes, preferably wild grapes
6 quarts sweet apples
Brown sugar and granulated sugar
This fruit butter recipe will turn out best using wild grapes not the commercially grown hybrid types as the wild grapes have more pectin. The apples need to be sweet apples such as Rome, Gala, Fuji, or Red Delicious, not tart ones such as Granny Smith. Make sure all the fruit is at its peak ripeness. For pureeing the apples for the fruit butter an old fashion hand cranked fruit sieve or an electric press may be used. Don't use any aluminum pots or implements for cooking or preparing the fruit as it will cause discoloration in the final product. Pick the grapes at least a day or two before cooking them to allow their flavor to develop, and store them in the refrigerator.
The night before making fruit butter, run all the canning jars through the dishwasher on high heat along with the rings. Check the jars and rings for any chips, cracks, dents, or rust, and don't use any that are damaged. Count out the lids to have enough of the right size but do not wash them. De-stem and clean the grapes, keeping them cool afterwards in the fridge. Making fruit butters or jellys means working with hot liquids. Hot liquids are very dangerous, use adequate protective shields when handling them and be aware of what you are doing. Keep young children out of the cooking area. They can cause distractions that can lead to you or them getting hurt.
Line the 8 quart pot with the cheesecloth in a double layer that extends well over the sides. This is to make it possible to gather the sides up and tie them together to make a bag with the grape pulp inside it later. Put the grapes in the pot on top of the cloth and add enough water to barely cover them. Bring the grapes to a boil and turn down the heat so they are simmering. Simmer for 30 minutes till the grapes split open to release the juice. Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth being careful as it will all be very hot. Tie the grape pulp and seeds up in the cheesecloth using a twist tie and drain off the juice saving it for grape jelly. Don't squeeze the bag just place it in the colander and let the juice drip out of it into another pot for 30 minutes or so while preparing the apples. Save the grape juice in the fridge after it has cooled. Don't throw away the pulp and seeds.
Slice the washed, unpeeled apples into quarters and place them along with the bag of grape pulp in a 8 quart pot. Add enough water to cover them, bring to a boil and simmer the apples and grape pulp for 30 minutes to allow their flavors to mingle. Remove the grape bag, allowing it to drain and discard it with the grape pulp and seeds. Drain the apples and again save this juice just like the earlier juice for the jelly making. The easiest way to drain the apples is to use a large slotted spoon to dip out most of them and then pour the juice through the colander to remove the smaller pieces. Run the cooked apples through a sieve or fruit press to remove the skins and seeds, then place the apple pulp in a 4 quart pot or a slow cooker. For each 5 cups of apple pulp add 2 cups of packed brown sugar and 2 cups of granulated sugar. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes then add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for each 5 cups of fruit butter. Cook the apple butter down to the desired thickness. The easiest way is in a slow cooker over low heat. This may take 4 to 6 hours depending on much water was in the pulp and it should be uncovered to allow the water to cook away. It is easy to scorch the butter if cooked on the stove top unless it is stirred constantly.
Place some 4 or 5 pint jars in the large water bath pot, stand them upright, cover with water, and bring it to a boil while the butter is cooking. Place the jar rings and lids in a smaller pot and boil them also. When the fruit butter reaches the right consistency remove it from the heat. Take the hot jars out of the water along with the rings and lids, and place them on a clean folded towel and the lids on a clean plate. Ladle the hot apple butter into the hot jars to within a 1/2 inch of the tops using the funnel. Wipe any drips off the jar rims so the lids will seal well. Cover with the lids and screw on the rings immediately. Do not over tighten the rings. Using the hot jar lifter, place each jar in the hot water bath, slowly lowering them into the hot water. The jars need to be covered so the water is an inch over their tops. Bring to a hard boil for 5 minutes, then lift them out back onto the folded towel to cool. The lids should seal as they cool and any that don't seal can be kept in the refrigerator once cooled. The lids are safely sealed when they are sucked down tight and will not yield to pressure. Canning lids are only for one time use and cannot be safely reused. Label the jars stating what's in them and the date produced, so it won't be necessary to guess later.