Got lots of apples? Try this apple butter, bursting with the flavors of fall’s harvest and warm spices.
Don’t let the name fool you. There’s no actual butter in this delicious jam-like spread. The name comes from its smooth and buttery texture. In addition to fresh apples, you’ll need a little apple juice, some pure maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, and a touch of cloves.
Just a few ingredients needed for delicious apple butter that tastes sooooooo much better than the store-bought stuff and with fractions of the sugar!
More versatile than ketchup, Apple Butter and…
- cinnamon raisin toast
- spice cake filling
- thumbprint cookies
- ice cream
- Overnight Oats for a real breakfast treat!
- and more!
How about including it on your holiday cheeze board? It’s also a great savory option as a marinade or glaze for proteins such as chicken or pork.
Granny Smith, Fuji, Braeburn, McIntosh, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, and Winesap are good varietals for making apple butter. We like using Granny Smith, but oftentimes we’ll use a combination of mostly Granny Smith with 2 soft and sweet varieties. For this batch we used Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Fuji.
Granny Smith apples are more firm and tart and have a higher pectin content than sweet apples. The higher pectin allows for a nice setting or gelling.
First Stage of Cooking
Core, peel, and cut the apples into quarters. Then cut each quarter in half crosswise.
Put the apples into a large pot. Add water and apple juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until apples are soft.
Now it’s time to puree. We like to use an immersion blender (hand blender), but you can also use a food mill, blender, or food processor. If you’re not using a hand blender, you’ll want to puree in batches. Be careful – the mixture is hot!
There are lots of immersion blenders on the market. We have several, but the one we used today was a Cuisinart, our most economical hand blender.
Second Stage of Cooking
Add maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Puree just to combine. If you didn’t use an immersion blender, add the syrup and spices to one of the batches in the blender or food processor. Transfer batches back to the original pot.
Apple butter’s nice golden brown color comes from the caramelization of the sugars in the apples during this extended cooking time.
Raise the heat to medium-high. When mixture comes to a boil, lower heat to medium-low and cook at a gentle simmer until apple mixture darkens and is thick, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
The apple butter should be thick enough to hold a dollop on a plate with no liquid seeping out around the edges. There is no magical amount of time that this takes. It may only take 45 minutes, or it could take up to 1-1/2 hours, depending on the width of your pot and temperature of the stove.
We’re storing some apple butter in the fridge for the coming week. We’ll freeze the rest in Ball plastic freezer jars. The shelf life in the freezer is 4-6 months.
You could “can” the apple butter by heat processing in boiling water. However, we’ve made this with an extremely low amount of sugar. That being said, the shelf life of canning this apple butter diminishes. We suggest freezing the leftovers.
Sugar is a powerful preservative. Jams and preserves with higher amounts of sugar hold their quality longer than lower sugar preserves. That’s why most store bought jams and recipes for canning have such high amounts of sugar.
Some apple butter recipes call for up to 3-1/2 cups of sugar for the same amount of apples as our recipe. However, we only used 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup. In fact, some jam and preserve references suggest the ratio between sweet fruits and sugar as 2:1 (2 parts fruit to 1 part sugar). Bitter fruits can even have more sugar with a ratio of 3:2.
Don’t get me wrong. We love canning. For years we made jams, jellies, and preserves year round. It was like one of our most favorite things to do. We’d head to the farmers market weekly for the picks of the season and start jammin’!
We’re just looking forward to making more jams, jellies, and preserves without all the sugar.
Try our Blueberry Jam which was made with just 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup.
And now it’s time for dinner. A nice salad and baked sweet potato fries with…yes, apple butter!!!
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Yield 4 1/2 Cups
Free of: gluten and top 8 allergens.
Smooth, buttery texture, that tastes like apple pie!
4 pounds apples, about 10 to 14 medium (see recipe notes)
2 cups water
1 cup apple juice or apple cider
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (see recipe notes)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
- Wash apples under cold running water. Core, peel, and cut the apples into quarters. Then cut each quarter in half crosswise. You should have 12 cups of chopped apples.
- Combine apples, water, and apple juice in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes, until apples are soft. Puree mixture using an immersion blender, or in batches using a food mill, blender, or food processor.
- Add maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves and puree just to combine.
- Raise heat to medium-high. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook at a gentle simmer until apple mixture is dark and thick enough to hold a dollop on a plate with no liquid seeping out around the edges, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. This may take 45 minutes or it could take up to 1-1/2 hours, depending on the width of your pot. Remove from heat. As the hot apple butter thickens, it splatters a bit. If you have one, you may want to use a splatter screen.
- Let cool completely and portion what you need for the coming week into a container and store in the fridge. We suggest freezing the rest. Apple butter freezes well for 4-6 months. Ball's plastic freezer jars are perfect for storing apple butter and other jams and preserves in the freezer.
- Granny Smith, Fuji, Braeburn, McIntosh, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, and Winesap are good varietals for making apple butter. We like using Granny Smith, but oftentimes we'll use a combination of mostly Granny Smith with 2 soft and sweet varieties. For this batch we used Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Fuji. Granny Smith apples are more firm and tart and have a higher pectin content than sweet apples. The higher pectin allows for a nice setting or gelling of the apple butter.
- Pure maple syrup can be replaced with honey, 3/4 cup brown sugar, or 3/4 cup granulated sugar. If you like a sweeter apple butter, increase the maple syrup to 3/4 cup or as desired. The amount of sugar also depends on the apple varietal and its sweetness.
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