Homemade apple butter that’s lightly spiced and subtly sweet. A large recipe made for canning, when Fall apples are in abundance.
Early Fall is a great time to be canning and preserving. All of the summer vegetables are making their last hurrah at the same time the cold-season fruits are ripening in abundance. For gardeners and farmers, it can be an overwhelming time of year. It’s hard to find enough time to make use of all the goods piling up in the fields. If you’re like me and you’re lightly obsessed with making sure nothing goes to waste, then it is definitely time to pull out the canning supplies.
I’ve already put away jars and jars of whole tomatoes, pickles, and salsas. Corn and sweet peppers have been frozen and stashed. Chili peppers have been dried. Now, it’s time for something a little more special (at least to me) – homemade apple butter. This is a great way to use a lot of apples, and it’s likely that you can find them for a good price this time of year. In fact, you probably have a neighbor nearby who has old apple trees they don’t even pick from. Or maybe there’s some abandoned fruit trees somewhere in your neighborhood. I find them all over the place. Sometimes, they’re off trails in the forest or even city parks.
You could use just about any apple you like for apple butter. A slightly tart apple is probably better. It will lend a more complex flavor and offset the added sugar in the recipe. I recommend you taste your apples first, and adjust the sugar a little bit if you need to. I used moderately tart apples from some trees down the road from my house.
If you’re new to canning, you may want to educate yourself first on some canning basics. I have taken some intensive canning classes, and I take it pretty seriously. Water bath canning is a pretty simple and straightforward process once you get the hang of it, and it’s an awesome thing to know how to do. Every year, I can a ton of stuff from the garden, and there is nothing more satisfying than being able to feed yourself through the winter on homegrown goods.
I absolutely love this apple butter. It’s not too sweet, and the spices aren’t competing with the apple flavor. I use this apple butter for baked goods (like Kolaches or this Apple Butter Cake), breakfast sandwiches, or just spread onto biscuits. It’s thick and spreadable, unlike apple sauce, so it’s used in a different way. Try it with a fried chicken and cheddar sandwich – it’s amazing.
Homemade Apple Butter
- 7 pounds apples peeled, cored, and quartered
- 2 cups apple cider
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, combine apples and cider. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until apples are soft, stirring occasionally, about 25-30 minutes.
In a food processor fitted with a metal 's' blade, puree apples and juices just until a consistent texture. Do NOT liquefy.
Transfer apple puree back to cooking pot. Add sugar, cinnamon, and cloves, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer gently until mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon.* Stir frequently to prevent burning.
Meanwhile, fill a canning pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly so that bubbles subside; carefully place clean 8-ounce mason jars into hot water using a jar lifter. Warm lids in hot water and keep lids and jars warm until ready to fill.
Ladle hot apple butter into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Screw lid on jars. Carefully place jars back into canner with jar lifter. They should be completely covered by water. Bring to soft boil; process 10 minutes.** Turn off heat and wait 5-10 minutes before removing jars. Allow to cool completely before labeling and storing.
* To test butter for doneness, it helps to keep a small plate in the freezer. Dollop a spoonful of butter onto chilled plate. When the liquid no longer separates around the edges and butter holds its shape, it is ready to process.
**Time given is for sea level. Be sure to add time accordingly depending on the altitude of your town. For more info, check the simply canning website .