Fruit was used as the usual accompaniment for meat until quite recently. From a modern standpoint, think of apple sauce with pork, or rowan jelly with goose, just writ large… a kick of sweetness adds so much to meat, bringing out the flavour and mixing with the juices…
The Anglo-Saxons certainly thought sweet and meat was a good combination and this recipe has been stolen (and muddled up) from a fantastic cookery book ‘Tastes of Anglo-Saxon England’ by Mary Savelli.
Æpple Syfling, or stewed apples, calls for you to cook apples, cider, honey and spices until soft and then serve with meat. It is truly delicious in this form: not too sweet (I would recommend tarter apples, but that’s personal preference), with an aroma of spice and a lovely texture.
Obviously, though, the joy of cooking is that we can appreciate and adapt. The Anglo-Saxons did not have a slow cooker that could just be left on in the corner (but if they had, I’m sure they would have done this too), so taking advantage of modern technology, I have appropriated the original recipe and taken it to the next stage of the sweet, smooth, gooey goodness that is apple butter.
Feel free to stop at any point and savour the wonder that is spiced stewed apples in any form, but I would recommend seeing it all the way to the end, at least with some of the mixture. The flavour of the full apple butter is rich, not too sweet and deep, pairing equally well with gamey meat; bread and cheese (apple butter and cheese toasties are next level magnificent); cake; ice cream; and many things in between.
The mint and cumin mix produces a fresh and light sauce that tastes summery, but comforting at the same time.
(Note: I have included an alternative spice mix below the main recipe. Feel free to adapt it to your tastes, but the alternative recipe is one of my favourite spice mixes. Star anise is used a lot in 14th century fruit recipes and I got a little bit addicted in the name of research. If you are a liquorice nut like me, go wild with the star anise. The resulting mix is much more autumnal and a sweeter than the mint.)
(Alternative Spice mix)
The result of your apple butter will vary massively depending on your choice of ingredients. Bramley apples will produce a completely different colour and flavour to red apple varieties. The addition of brown sugar will darken the end result and make it more caramelly.
No posts found