I got a half-peck of McIntosh apples from Trader Joe’s last week and I decided it was time to just use up the last of them. But it turned out I only had 2 1/2 pounds left, and the recipe for apple butter in The Joy of Cooking calls for 4 pounds. I improvised with about 3 cups cranberries. It ended up pretty tart, but sort of chutney like. Marvelous. It’s reminiscent of wassail, and it’s such a lovely raspberry color. I had to make some bread today, so I would have something to put my fruit butter on.

Apple Cranberry Butter

2 1/2 pounds peeled, quartered and cored McIntosh apples, or other tart, cooking variety (my mother-in-law’s Jonathans are fantastic, but they’re in Utah and I’m not)
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
3 Cups fresh or frozen cranberries
lots of sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cloves
1/4 t allspice
grated rind of one lemon
juice of one lemon
grated rind of one orange

Cook the apples on medium low in the water and vinegar in a large saucepan. When they fall apart completely, mash them with a potato masher or puree in a blender, depending on your preferred texture. Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the cranberries until hot and mushy, checking every 30 seconds. Puree in a blender. Add cranberries to apples, along with 1/2 cup of sugar per cup of fruit. I think I used about 2 cups sugar, because I like it tart and not too sweet. Taste it before adding more sugar. Add spices and lemon and orange stuff and cook on low, stirring often, until the mixture sheets from the spoon. This can take hours, so if you must leave the house to pick up your kindergartener from school, just turn off the heat and resume when you get home. Be so careful not to let it burn. Pour it into hot sterilized pint or half pint jars. It will still seem runny when it’s done, but it will thicken up as it cools.

This stuff is really heavenly on whole grain toast. I definitely think it could be used as a chutney or meat sauce… Oh man, this would be fantastic with a pork loin roast. I think I’ll make that tomorrow.