Saturday, December 22, 2012

perfect homemade apple butter.

I've been working on this apple butter recipe for quite some time.  There are many different opinions out there on the "right" way to make the tasty stuff, so I figured I better try a few and find out for myself.

Here are the 3 different methods I tested.

{1} Traditionalists say that in order to make the perfect buttery rich apple butter you must cook the apples with the peels and cores.  Supposedly the extra pectin in the peel and core creates a thicker butter.  This variation was pretty labor intensive.  After cooking the quartered apples for hours I ran the chunky sauce through a food mill in small batches to get the right consistency and remove the peels and cores.

{2} Since my first try was quite the process I tried a much easier route this time around. I left the peels on the apples but removed the cores.  After slow cooking the apples for hours on the stove I used an immersion blender to puree it (peels and all).

{3} Some say that apple butter is just overcooked apple sauce.  So this time I removed skins and peels and cooked it like applesauce (and then cooked it some more).

Here's the great news...the best apple butter was try {2}!  And believe it or not, that was the easiest variation.  I guess there must be some truth to the pectin in the skins because it seemed to make a big difference (though the cores certainly aren't worth the effort).  Try {1} was good but way too much effort and you can't tell it from {2} at all.  Try {3} was also too much effort (peeling is a drag) and it just wasn't as good.

So, I better put all that research to good use and give you the recipe that I came up with.  It's really tasty and very healthy.  It takes a long time to cook, but it's so simple.  It's the perfect recipe to make on a weekend when you're home all day.  It makes the house smell amazing.

I made a lot!  Enough to give as Christmas gifts to all the neighbors and still have plenty of jars left for the pantry.  I used about 16lbs of apples and finished with twenty 8oz. (1/2 pint) jars.  I'm cutting the recipe down to only 4lbs of apples, but you can certainly make lots at once once by doubling (or quadrupling).  4 lbs. of apples will give you about five 8 oz. jars of apple butter.

Here's what you need:
  • 4lbs. apples (I used gala, granny smith and a few pink ladies - that's what we had in the fridge and what was on sale)
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
  • 1+1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • a pinch of cardamom (you can omit if you don't have it)
Here's what you do:
  • Cut apples into large slices and remove cores
  • Boil apples and cider in a large pot on medium to low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours, until apples are very tender and skins are slipping off.
  • Use an immersion blender (or a regular blender/food processor) to puree the apples and skins. 
  • Return to a simmer (low heat) and stir occasionally until desired consistency is reached (3-4 hours)
When finished the apple butter will be a deep golden brown and a thick buttery consistency (that's where it gets it's name).  It will thicken slightly as it cools.
Refrigerate the apple butter and enjoy OR can it/store it/gift it (like I did).

The cute tags are a free printable from the cottage industrialist!


  1. YAY you made the yummy sauce we were talking about - good for you, and save some for our next trip down :) xo

  2. Whit,
    I just bought some apple butter for a recipe I plan to prepare for the holidays. It never occurred to me to make my own! :-) I may have to add this to the list of things to try.
    Enjoy your holiday with your lovely family.

    1. Definitely give it a try!
      Hope you had a wonderful holiday! We had way to much fun. We're still recovering from our vacation!

  3. Thank you so much Whitney for this awesome gift! It was delicious! = )


  4. I CANNOT STOP EATING this apple butter. It is the best I've ever had! Even my little Mari loves it, too!

  5. Hi, I have a question? I am following your recipe but I am confused on when to throw in the brown sugar and spices? Thank you!

    1. Throw them in right after you puree the apples. Let it simmer with the spices (it'll make your house smell amazing!). Best of luck! Enjoy. It's so delicious, almost time for me to make some more.

  6. how long can you store the apple butter? can you can that apple butter after it is cooked? Does it need to be refrigerated? thank you

    1. The canned apple butter stores for a long time! The general rule on home canned food is use within a year. It probably will keep longer, but it's so delicious, I bet you won't have it that long. Once canned, it does not need refrigeration. If you choose not to can it and use it within a week or so, definitely refrigerate.