Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness
Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
who would cry out
to the petals on the ground
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married
to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do
if the love one claims to have for the world
So let us go on
though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.
— MARY OLIVER
Not every stage of life is meant to be pushed through to create blooms. Autumn reminds us of how we can celebrate both accomplishments (all that nature grew in Spring and Summer) and the need for rest (the hibernation of Winter she needs to begin again). A final burst of colour and golden light; tying the beauty of what was, with the anticipatory potential of possibility.
Today, as I spread this golden and sweetly spiced butter/jam on the girls toast I am reminded of my sister and how much she loved every autumn when we could drive out to the fruit farm to pick up a jar or two. It’s a taste that feels intrisincly tied to the turn of the season in the midwest of America, a time of year where the leaves are as vibrant as flowers and the smell of cinnamon and apple practically seeps out of our pores. It is also why I was so thrilled to receive my first jar of apple butter since childhood, from my fellow-ex pat friends at Pickle & Rye. Once we had happily and greedily licked the last drop from the jar I was desperate to have more. The shared experience of food should never be underestimated.
It gives me great pleasure to share their recipe (of which I’ve tweaked ever so slightly) with you now. Having made it myself I am assured this cooking project will surely cement itself as annual tradition. Side note: the recipe is large enough to gift others a little bit of the golden glow of autumn, as well as save some for yourself. I suggest enjoying it on toast or bagels with cream cheese, over vanilla ice cream, swirled into oatmeal or Greek yoghurt, or eat it with a piece of sharp, mature cheddar.
Happy end of October, friends. X
Apple Pumpkin & Maple Butter
1 tin unsweetened pumpkin puree or 425g (approx 2 cups) fresh pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
10 medium-sized apples (sweeter varieties work best here rather than tart)
100g or 1/2 cup light brown sugar
85ml or 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
*Equipment needed: 1 Instant Pot/pressure cooker or slow cooker (you can sub with a heavy bottomed pot over a hob but this will require much more attention whilst cooking)
*blender or stick blender
Peel, deseed and chop apples (and pumpkin if using fresh). Add all ingredients into whatever equipment you choose to use, and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until well combined and spices are evenly distributed.
If using an Instant Pot, I cooked this using a manual timer and low pressure for 60 minutes before releasing. You can also cook this for up to 12 hours using a slow cooker, or for 3-4 hours on a low heat on a hob with a watchful eye, taking care the sugar doesn’t catch and burn! The texture before blending should feel thicker and more caramelised than when making applesauce, but not burnt.
Cool slightly before blending, cooling completely and scooping into 2-3 jam-sized glass jars depending on the size of your apples (each jar is approx 340 ml)
Once fully cooled store in the fridge sealed for up to 1 month. Use within 2-3 weeks from opening.
*Note this recipe makes a very healthy-sized batch, great for keeping 1 jar and gifting the others to friends!