Monday, September 13, 2010

Apple Butter

On a trip to the farmer's market Labor Day weekend, I couldn't resist the apple stand.  I walked up intending to buy just a couple of apples, then ended up with a 7 pound bag of Zestar apples (an earlier-in-the-season cousin of the popular honey crisps).  I guess I was going to have to can them, right?  Apple butter is popular in our house, so that's what I decided to make.  It was an unintentional, impulsive decision that I cannot explain.  My hands put all of the apples in the bag, and my mouth told the farmer that I also needed a 1/2 gallon of apple cider.

I broke out my current favorite library book, Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry and turned to page 186 for Spiced Apple Butter.

In the summer I picked up a handy apple peeler/slicer/corer.  I knew I was going to work with some apples in the fall, and I'm glad I bought it.  It was easy and fun to use. 

I took 6 pounds of the apples sliced, peel, and cored them, then boiled them in a pot with 2 cups of apple cider and 4 cups water.

UPDATE:  I looked at the USDA's recommendation, and they used 2 cups of cider and 2 cups of vinegar.  I'm wondering why vinegar instead of water?  Does the cider alter the acidity to an unsafe level?  How does the vinegar affect the taste?  You can read the recommendation for yourself here on page 6:

ANOTHER UPDATE:  I contacted my local extension office.  I was told that, "The vinegar is added for flavor and may be omitted in fruit-based butters. The apple cider is also for flavor; in the applesauce [I had asked if it was ok to substitute cider for vinegar in applesauce] you can certainly use cider in place of water."  Phew!  My apple butter is safe!  I'm wondering how the vinegar affects the taste.  It doesn't sound appealing to me...

The apple cider was so delicious.  I'm glad I made that impulse purchase.
After boiling the apples for about a 1/2 hour, I blended them with my immersion blender.  I didn't puree them, I made them to be the consistency of applesauce (which, it technically was at this point).

After blending, the applesauce was poured into a slow cooker.  1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/2 tsp anise were added (and 1/2 tsp cloves would have been if I had some that were ground...). 

I set the slow cooker to low, and put the lid on (but propped it open). 
After about 12 hours, it was nice and thick.  The color is dark because the sugar caramelizes a bit.
I processed the jars for 10 minutes in the waterbath canner.
If you've never had apple butter, I absolutely recommend it.  It's great on peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches.  There are also other great uses suggested in Canning for a New Generation:  stir it into oatmeal, cottage cheese or yogurt; smear on hot biscuits, waffles, pancakes or French toast; mix it with mustard and use as a glaze for pork loin or ribs; use instead of frosting between spice cake layers. 

If you are looking for other creative ways to use your jams/jellies/butters, check out this post by the Hungry Texan.

This post is a part of the Hearth 'n Soul Blog Hop.


  1. Who doesn't love apple butter?!?!? I could eat my weight in it, but who would do that
    *pfff* NOT me (and maybe I just sit down with the jar and a spoon.... don't judge).

    Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

  2. I love apple butter- I could it all by itself. I discovered last week that it was also good with grilled cheese. Love the spices you used!

  3. Ah, real food has the power to pull us in and make us do crazy things! I love apple butter have never attempted to make it - this sounds so delicious! thanks for linking this The Hearth'nSoul Blog Hop!

  4. I usually end up making butters toward the end of the season, when I'm sick of canning because I can stick it in the crock pot and let it do it's thing. But I never regret having made it. Thank you for participating in the Hearth and Soul blog hop this week!

  5. Hi Adrienne! So glad you came to link up to the hearth n soul hop today! I am now following your lovely blog and I look forward to getting to know you better! I remember the first time I tried apple butter was at college in PA. It is not common in my area, and I fell in love with the creaminess and the suprising apple spiciness. Very cool~ :) Alex@amoderatelife

  6. This looks great, and aside from the wait, the task itself looks easy.

    What's the cleanup like on the slow cooker after the 12-hour stickyness? For some reason, the bowl doesn't detach from mine so the dishwasher is out - I need to hand wash it.

  7. Cookin' Mama- I'll have to try the spoon method.'s basically thick applesauce, so I don't see what the big deal is. ;)

    scrambledhenfruit- I heart grilled cheese (like...a lot...seriously). I'll have to give that a try!

    Christy- those apples just had power over my body. I had no choice in purchasing more than I had intended!

    Butterpoweredbike- the crockpot method really rocks. Plus, it's like lighting a scented candle, only better. The house smells heavenly.

    Alex@amoderatelife- thanks for the follow! Since it's not so popular in your area, you might have to cook up a batch. :)

    Dan- I really had to scrub my slow cooker to get it clean, but I didn't soak it either. I wanted to clean it up right away. You could always use one of those slow cooker liners. I'm just too cheap to buy them. ;)

  8. I've always wondered how to make apple butter! Thanks for sharing your experience making it. And I love your apple peeler gadget - it's wonderful!

  9. i love apple butter too...last year i found myself with an abundance of pears, so i canned pear butter. i will have to get my hands on some apples soon because your post has me craving ginger scones with apple butter...yum!

  10. Oh, it turned out so dark and gorgeous! Seriously, I just made some the other day, but it doesn't look half as beautiful as yours does. So glad you've joined us at the hearth 'n soul hop =)

  11. So happy to have found your blog! We posted a preserve for the event too.

  12. I totally agree applebutter is more than just a spread on toast and biscuits. Would love to see more recipes and ideas you have for it.

  13. I love apple butter! I never would have thought to put anise in it. Looks tasty!

  14. Nice to see you giving your lonely crockpot a work out :) Clean up is a snap if you let it soak for a bit with really hot water.

    I'm envious of your apple toy.

    -the redhead-


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