Prep 1 hr
Cook 0 mins
From Jersey Channel Islands, UK Between 1600 and 1700, twenty percent of Jersey’s arable land was made up of orchards. Cider was made by farmers to give to their staff, making up part of their wages. The island’s export trade in apples peaked in 1810 when 4.5 million litres left the island. A great tradition that exists as a result of Jersey’s proliferation of apples is the production of ‘black butter’ or ‘Le Niere Buerre’. Made from cider apples, the new cider is boiled over a fire for many hours - up to two days! When the cider is ‘reduced’ by half, apples, sugar, lemon, liquorice and spices are added. The mixture is continuously stirred with a wooden ‘rabot’ or paddle. Production of the butter is a very popular community event following each winter crop with traditional singing, dancing, storytelling and chatting going on into the early hours of the morning. Although not as common, the black butter evenings still take place. The tradition also exists further afield. In Pennsylvania USA, early immigrants took the custom with them but renamed it ‘Apple Butter’.
- 4 lbs apples (cider apples)
- 2 pints sweet apple cider
- 1 lb sugar
- 1 teaspoon clove (ground)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon (ground)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon allspice (aka 1 Saltspoon)
- clarified butter
- Take 4 pounds of full ripe apples, and peel and core them. Meanwhile put into a pan 2 pints of sweet cider, and boil until it reduces by half. Put the apples, chopped small, to the cider. Cook slowly stirring frequently, until the fruit is tender, as you can crush beneath the back of a spoon. Then work the apple through a sieve, and return to the pan adding 1lb beaten (granulated) sugar and spices as following, 1 teaspoon clove well ground, 2 teaspoons cinnamon well ground, 1 saltspoon allspice well ground. Cook over low fire for about ¾ hour, stirring until mixture thickens and turns a rich brown. Pour the butter into into small clean jars, and cover with clarified butter when cold. Seal and keep for three months before using. By this time the butter will have turned almost black, and have a most delicious flavour.
- I cannot guess at the amount of time to make, 1-2 days is the traditional time spent.
- From Jane Austen's Christmas.
- Maria Hubert von Staufer March 1995.