Apple Butter is a spread made from slow-cooked apples that caramelize and end up with a strong apple flavor.
There is no butter used in apple butter, so the name can be confusing. But, it is a delicious apple-flavored spread that is wonderful on bread or used as a condiment and it makes a wonderful accompaniment to any cheeseboard. In fact, it falls closer to the category of jams and jellies. You can buy a jar of this tasty spread at the store, but if you have the time and apples to use up, make your own batch!
APPLE BUTTER RECIPE
As mentioned, this recipe takes time, but not a lot of work. Peeling, coring, and chopping the apples will take you the most time. The slow cooker does the rest, and it’s so much better than the store-bought varieties!
WHAT KINDS OF APPLES ARE BEST?
I used Granny Smith apples for this recipe, but you can choose any kind of apple you prefer. A softer apple (i.e. Fuji, Golden Delicious, McIntosh) often cooks down a little better (and a little faster). But, there really wasn’t an issue with the Granny Smith apples, so it’s really your preference.
HOW TO MAKE APPLE BUTTER
The first thing to do to make the apple spread is peel, core, and finely chop the apples. If you have an apple peeler and corer, that will save you some time. Place the chopped apples in a slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 12 hours.
After 12 hours, uncover and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until it is smooth. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could put batches of the mixture into a blender.)
But, be aware that the apple butter is far from done yet! Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for another 8-10 hours. This will allow the apples to caramelize into the color and texture of apple butter.
You will know the spread is done when it is a dark brown, thicker than apple sauce, and will stick to the back of a spoon. Once you make your first batch, you can see if you need to add more spices or use different apples to adjust the flavor to your liking.
HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE APPLE BUTTER
If you are keeping the apple butter in the refrigerator, it will last about a month in a sealed, airtight container. To freeze the spread, let it cool completely. Then, spoon it into freezer-safe containers leaving about 1/2-inch from the top. Label and date each container; it will last for a few months, up to a year.
HOW TO CAN HOMEMADE APPLE BUTTER
Canning apple butter is the best way to preserve this spread. It will last up to two years if canned. To can apple butter, you will need the following equipment:
- Water Bath Canner (or a large pot with a lid) and a canning rack
- Canning jars, lids, and rims (like mason jars)
- Jar lifter–This will securely grab a jar out of the canner.
- Canning funnel
- Stir stick, or anything that you can slide into the jar to get rid of any bubbles
- Time–Don’t start canning if you are rushed; it will be too stressful and not as much fun!
- Towels to clean up and wipe down jars
To can the apple butter, fill the canner with water and bring it to a boil. (You can get the water boiling at the end of the final cooking of the apple butter.) Use the funnel to fill each canning jar, leaving about 1/4-inch headspace (distance between the underside of the lid and the apple butter).
Once all the jars have been filled, place them in the canning rack and lower them into the boiling water. Make sure about an inch of water is covering the tops of the jars. Boil for about 10 minutes. Then, turn off the heat, leaving the jars in the water for another 5 minutes.
Use the jar remover to remove each jar from the canner. Place each on some towels to cool for about 12 hours. Once cooled, check that each jar is sealed. If a jar did not seal, simply store that one in the refrigerator for up to a month. The canned apple butter will last about 2 years.
- 5 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
Place the chopped apples into a slow cooker.
Add the brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, water, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Mix well.
Cover and cook on low for 12 hours.
After 12 hours, uncover and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth.
Optional: Pass the apple butter through a fine wire-mesh strainer to catch any remaining larger pieces. This is an optional step but will ensure a smooth and creamy consistency. Discard any of the thicker pulp.
Cover and cook on low for another 8-10 hours. The apple butter is done when it is dark brown, thicker than apple sauce, and sticks to the back of a spoon.
Spoon mixture into sealed containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer.