First, you’ll want a community. This recipe makes a lot of apple butter. If you don’t have a community, there are a few easy steps for building one:

1) Kick out the people who make it unsafe for others, whether they’re white supremacists, homophobic, transphobic, whatever. There’s a word for people who make safe spaces for Nazis. It’s Nazi.

2) model how to ask for and receive help with grace, publicly.

3) Demonstrate boundaries and how to set them.

Now that you have a community, you’ll need some apples. But it’s ok. Someone in your community will have them. Or have access to them. Someone’s kid will have a fundraiser that involves selling flats of apples. Or you’ll go down to survival camp in the mountains and there will be an accidental orchard and you’ll have a bad case of “my nuts!” syndrome* and end up with a surprise bushel of apples. Something.

For every ~6 lbs/3 kg of apples (I know that’s not equivalent, it’s an ish measurement) you’ll want a cup of white and a cup of brown sugar. A cup is around 200g. This is rough. OK? Borrow some sugar if you don’t have enough. If you don’t have anyone you can borrow sugar from, go back to the build community step of this recipe. You’ll want it soon.

You’ll want a big spoon each of cinnamon and vanilla, per this six pounds of apples. A tablespoon if you’re measuring carefully, whatever’s a big spoon in your cupboard if not. A half teaspoon (or a scant palm) of nutmeg. Half THAT much of cloves and salt, each. Per six pounds.

If you have a bushel, all bets are off. But add less than you think, this is gonna cook down.

Cook the apples. I don’t have a better instruction for you than that. Get the peels off and the cores out and COOK them. For a long time. Until they turn brown. Until they caramelize. If you have a slow cooker, this is in the neighborhood of 10-20 hours. Yes, I know that’s a big range. Just cook them until all coherence is gone. Watch the news. Or don’t; it’s painful. Watch a movie that gives you hope. Every time there’s a good one-liner, stir your apples.

By this point, the sugar in the apples should have caramelized. Your apple butter will be nice and dark brown. And your house will smell amazing.

This makes so much apple butter. Remember that community? They’re gonna help you get rid of your apple butter. Can it. Or jar it and refrigerate it. How much community do you have? Try to have enough to get rid of most of this apple butter. If you don’t have enough community, make more.

*My Nuts syndrome is activated when you realize that a food you are gathering is free, and you must therefore gather at least as much as you can carry, regardless of whether you know how or where to store and use it all. Like a squirrel. With nuts.