Sauces

November 22, 2021

Homemade Apple Butter

Homemade Apple Butter

Who doesn't love apple butter?! It's the epitome of fall and is a great technique to know how to make if you go apple picking.

Other than apple butter just being so delicious and versatile, this recipe is so great is because it is more than just a recipe, it’s a technique! When you take a step back and look at what we are doing here, you can see that we are essentially making a jam or preserve.

This is important because it allows us to revert back to the traditional methods of picking an abundance of perfectly ripened fruit at their peak season and preserving it for the rest of the year. Not only can this technique be used for apples but with minor adjustments, you can also use this technique on pears, peaches, quince, plums, you name it! Just follow the simple steps below and make this the year you actually make and can your own preserves!

The History of Apple Butter

The history of apple butter in our country is as old as the country itself. Actually older, considering the colonists were making it before the American Revolution. Before the days of refrigeration and controlled freezing, farmers and foragers were forced to preserve their harvests at the end of the growing season or risk it rotting.

One popular technique was to cook the apples in large cauldrons over open flames with sugar, cider, and spices until it became a deeply-colored smooth puree. Once reduced and pureed, apple butter can keep much longer than a typical refrigerated food because of the high sugar content, high acidity levels, and low percentage of water- not being occupied by sugar. It is difficult for bacteria to grow in that environment, thus helping to preserve the product longer. Throughout the United States, apple butter festivals are still held to uphold traditions and pass on the technique.

Once cooked and pureed, apple butter can then be portioned into jars and canned, or frozen in plastic containers. Once preserved, you will have apple butter to use year round. Whether you are spreading it on a biscuit or toast, using it as an accompaniment for cheese, or using it as a component for a dessert, you will never regret taking the time once a year to have apple butter kicking around. I know we never do!


Ingredients for Apple Butter

Not only do we like this recipe for its taste and the perfect fall aroma that it brings into our home, but we also love how few ingredients it has. All you need are the following:

  • Apples: I like to use a mixture of tart and sweet apples to give the apple butter a subtly complex flavor.
  • Brown Sugar: While granulated sugar works perfectly fine, brown sugar brings that deep molasses flavor to the party.
  • Lemon Juice: The lemon juice is added to offset the sweetness of the apples and sugar. In the event that you don’t have lemon juice, simply replace it with 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
  • Spices: I like to keep it simple here with the traditional cinnamon and nutmeg but I have been known to get a little crazy and throw some other spices in there such as cloves, star anise, vanilla, ginger (traditional) and even coriander and cardamom. This is where we invite you to experiment and make this recipe your own.
  • Salt: Whether it is a savory or sweet recipe, never forget to add salt.

Making the Smoothest and Perfectly Balanced Apple Butter

While making apple butter does take quite a long time given it's the oven for about four hours, the actual process is quite simple and easy. The steps are:

  1. Cutting and seasoning the fruit
  2. Baking the fruit
  3. Pureeing the cooked fruit
  4. Finalizing the seasoning and chill


Pretty easy right?

Tips for Making Homemade Apple Butter

  1. Knowing when to puree the apples: Make sure to puree the apples when they are still hot but not raging hot. You don't want the steam in the blender to blow the top off or possibly burn you, but if the apples chill too much, they will be harder to puree and the liquid will not flow as freely.
  2. Using the spices: After you make the recipe as is the first time, feel free to get adventurous with the complimentary flavors. Spices such as clove, allspice, star anise and mace go fantastically with apples. You can even incorporate fresh herbs such as thyme or sage towards the end. Just remember, it is always better to use less than more. When it comes to dried spices, a little goes a long way.
  3. Adjusting the seasoning: When fine-tuning the seasoning of the apple butter after being pureed, try it and adjust the flavoring towards your liking. Try adding a pinch of salt or a splash of lemon juice and see the effects it has on the apple butter. You would be amazed how just a pinch of salt or squeeze of fresh lemon can take your butter from being good, to becoming a family legend.
  4. The types of apples to use: Use a mix of different types of apples. I always like to use a mixture of sweet and tart apples. This gives your apple butter an under-lying complexity. The best way to determine what apples to use is to go to your local orchard and pick whatever they have available. Fresh-picked apples will always make the best butter and imagine what family and friends would say if you gave them a can of your very own apple butter with the holiday card of your family at the orchard this year. So cliché, in all the right ways!

We absolutely love fall and LOVE making homemade apple butter after we come home from picking them ourselves (with a bit of cider, might I add). You can use apple butter to top French Toast, as a holiday gift, in various desserts and breakfast, or simply as a spread on some good homemade white bread.

Happy Fall! Cheers and eat well.

Homemade Apple Butter

This apple butter will kick off your fall season the right way and give your home an aroma of the best fall-scented candle you’ve ever experienced. No peeling is required and results in a velvety smooth apple butter!

Author:

Jamie Imlah

Prep:

10

min

cook:

240

min

total:

250

min

serves:

15

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds apples of your choice (cored & chopped)
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Core, dice and slice your apples into wedges or cubes. Do not have to be perfect but should be similar in size.
  2. Preheat your oven to 250 F.
  3. Once all apples are cut, put them into a large bowl and season with salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and lemon juice, then add the brown sugar and toss to evenly distribute.
  4. Add all the apples and seasonings to a large pan, and wrap the top with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Make sure that the plastic wrap is not hanging down the sides of the pan lower than the aluminum foil.
  5. Put the pan into the oven and bake at 250 F for about 2 hours.
  6. After 1 ½ hours, take the pan out of the oven, carefully pull off the plastic/aluminum foil layer and mix the apples while distributing the liquid.
  7. After the apples have been mixed, replace the plastic/aluminum foil and place the pan back in the oven to continue baking for another 2 hours.
  8. After 2 more hours, remove the pan from the oven and let it cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes before pureeing.
  9. Once the apples have cooled slightly, puree them into a smooth liquid using a blender.
  10. Once all apples are pureed, taste the apple butter and adjust the seasoning with salt, brown sugar, lemon juice and spices to your liking before chilling. Enjoy!

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