HOW to Make Apple Butter
Remember Apple Butter, you probably do if you are over 40 and spent much time at Grandma’s house or if you happen to be Amish. Apple butter has been around for multiple centuries and it is really delicious. It is one of those sweet and spicy treats that is actually good for you, especially when made the old-fashioned way. Read more…
HOW TO MAKE APPLE BUTTER
Apple butter is a smooth, thick and creamy apple sauce that has had most of the liquid cooked out of it and cooked down until it is the spreadable consistency of butter or margarine. It is an apple preserve rather than a sauce or jelly and it is delicious on toast, hot biscuits, bagels, on cornbread or as a spread for sandwiches (It goes wonderful with ham or turkey.) and it is wonderful mixed with cream cheese and used to stuff celery. Add a sprinkle of finely chopped walnuts over the top and you have a delicious and healthy snack.
Apple butter is one of those old time recipes made by the early colonist and popular with the Amish communities in particular. It is still very popular today in some circles and that is a good thing because apple butter is good for you despite its high concentration of sugars.
I remember my grandmother making Apple Butter and I have made it a few times myself. Apple butter is slow cooked over low heat and requires frequent stirring to prevent it from scorching and it is made with apples, cider (not distilled apple juice) sugar and a variety of spices. It is made similar to making apple sauce but is cooked for much longer, until the apples and sugar have caramelized and turned a deep golden brown. It does not contain any butter at all and the term apple butter simply comes from its butter-like consistency when it is fully cooked.
My grandmother used to say you could tell when the apple butter was done if you could stand your wooden spoon up in the center of the mixture and it would remain standing. You can make it on top of the stove like grandma did or you can make it in your crock pot or slow cooker but remember to stir frequently. You do not want it to scorch or it will have a bitter taste. Because of the pectin and the high content of sugar this will scorch easily so it needs to be stirred frequently. Here is how to make Apple Butter.
Rinse and core 16-18 good size apples (Do not peel) Tart apples like McIntosh or Granny Smith are best for Apple Butter but other apples will work or a combination of apples and place them in a kettle over medium-low heat with about a cup of water, just enough to steam them and prevent them from scorching. Cover and allow to steam until just soft (fork tender) about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and turn out into a strainer over a large mixing bowl to retain liquid. You want to retain this liquid because it contains all the vitamins and minerals that are right beneath the peel of the apple. Mash and stir your steamed apples until all the pulp is worked through the strainer and only the thin skins are left. Return the pulp and liquid to your cooking pot.
Add to apples and retained liquid
4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup apple cider (not distilled apple juice)
1 tsp. cider vinegar
Pinch of salt (about 1/8 tsp.)
2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. all spice
1/2 tsp. ground clove
You may add extra spices to taste but this is usually sufficient for a nicely flavored spread; some may want it a little spicier however. Stir to blend all ingredients and place over low heat. You want this to cook slowly.
Cover for the first hour to two hours and then remove cover so liquid will slowly evaporate. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Do not use a metal spoon to stir. Use a wooden spoon. (It used to be a rule of thumb back when I was growing up and we were making apple butter that if you were old enough to work around the stove whenever you walked by the stove you gave the apple butter a quick stir. You need to stir it often.)
The apple mixture needs to cook down until it is really thick though it will thicken some more as it cools. As it cooks it will become a dark golden brown and it is done when it is thick and creamy and a wooden spoon will stand without falling over when it is placed in the center of you mixture…and oh the wonderful aroma that permeates the house while this is cooking; it is heavenly. This is the old fashioned way to make apple butter, the way our grandmothers and great-grandmothers made it but you can follow the same recipe and cook it in your crock pot or slow cooker too. That works just fine but it will take a good 12 to 14 hours cooking time. Cook covered for 8 hours on medium low stirring frequently and then remove cover. Raise heat to high and continue cooking for another 4 to 6 hours until the apple butter is cooked down to a thick, creamy consistency. Even in your crock pot or slow cooker you will need to stir often. When done remove from heat and allow to cool.
Allow to cool to room temperature and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator. If you want to can your homemade apple butter; fill pint or half-pint jars with the apple butter while still hot and seal. Process in a hot water bath for five minutes for the half-pints and 10 minutes for the pint size jars. Timing begins for the processing as soon as the water comes to a full boil. Unless the seal is broken apple butter will keep for a long time but it is so good it will seldom get to see old age.
Grandma would can up several dozen pints of apple butter each season and oh it tasted wonderful on those cold winter morning slathered over hot biscuits and a couple teaspoons of apple butter is a marvelous addition to a steaming bowl of oatmeal or to spread on your toast with that plate of scrambled eggs. Apple butter, it may be straight out of the “good old days” but it is just as good today as it was then.
Yes, to make homemade apple butter is time consuming to make but oh it is so worth it and it is a great project for those cold and blustery winter days when you are stuck inside anyhow.