Homemade Apple Butter
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Apple butter is thicker than applesauce with a rich caramelized flavor and warm fragrant spices. It’s used as a spread, topping, or snack. This homemade apple butter recipe is easy to make from scratch on the stovetop in as little as two hours.
Fall is a great time to go apple picking. While you can make and freeze a bunch of apple pie filling with your bounty of apples, you will also want to make a batch of this homemade apple butter.
You can make apple butter on the stovetop or in the slow cooker. It can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, or preserved by canning.
What is apple butter?
Contrary to its name, there is no actual “butter” in apple butter. It’s cooked and pureed smooth like applesauce, but is cooked much longer and with more spices.
It’s super concentrated so the apple flavor is strong, and it’s thick enough to spread onto toast, like jam or jelly.
What is the best apple to use?
Homemade apple butter is easy to make with any kind of apple.
I used Pink Lady apples because they are my favorite, and a good combination of sweet and tart.
Softer apple varieties (Golden Delicious, McIntosh, or Jonagold) work best for apple butter since they cook down faster. But use what you have.
The crisper apple varieties may just take longer to cook down to puree as smoothly. You can even use multiple apple varieties for a more complex flavor.
NOTE: Keep in mind, the sweetness of your apples will determine how much sugar you will need to add. Adjust the added sugar according to your apples and preferences.
How To Make Apple Butter From Scratch
First, prepare the apples. The apples can be peeled or left with the skin on. The skin of the apples will create a more textured apple butter, but the skins also have a lot of flavor in them.
If you prefer a smoother spread, I would use an apple peeler, corer, slicer to prepare the apples with.
Since I opted to leave the skins on, I simply used an apple slicer and corer, then cut the slices into large chunks.
Next, sweeten and season the apples. Apple juice and lemon juice are added to boost the flavor, as well as preserve the apples’ freshness.
You can use as much or as little sugar and spices as you prefer. I went with brown sugar for richness, and used cinnamon, cloves, and a little salt.
All that’s left to do is cook the apples low and slow over the stovetop. (Continue reading for slow cooker instructions as well.)
Stovetop Apple Butter
Once the apples are cut, place them in a large pot. Add the apple juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.
Stir together. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 hours, or until the apples have become very soft.
Once the apples are soft, you can use an immersion blender to puree them directly in the pot, or you can scoop them into a blender and puree them in batches.
Return the pureed apples to the stovetop and cook an additional 30-60 minutes, or until thick, and a deep brown color.
Pro tip! How do you know when apple butter is done? Place a spoonful of apple butter on a plate. If there is no water separation after it has cooled down, the apple butter is ready.
How To Make Apple Butter in the Slow Cooker
While making apple butter on the stovetop is quick and easy, it does require some babysitting (stirring occasionally).
To make apple butter in the crockpot, simply place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 10 hours. (Stirring at least halfway through, to make sure it’s not burning on the bottom or edges.)
Blend the apples smooth, then cook, uncovered, for an additional 2 hours.
How to Store Apple Butter
After the apple butter is finished, you can spoon the mixture into jars and keep it refrigerated for 3 weeks or up to 1 month.
To Freeze: Spoon apple butter into small freezer containers. Can freeze for several months and up to 1 year. To use, thaw in the refrigerator and use as desired. Keep refrigerated.
For canning: Ladle into sterilized jars, wipe the rims clean, screw on fresh lids and submerge in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and cool to room temperature. Processed jars of apple butter will keep at room temperature for several months.
Apple Butter Uses
The most common use for apple butter is to use it as a spread like you would jam or jelly. Here are our favorite ways to use apple butter:
- Spread it on toast or biscuits.
- Top pancakes or waffles with it.
- Stir it into oatmeal or yogurt.
- Warm it up and use it as a topping for ice cream.
- Use it in recipes, like you would applesauce.
- Fill cupcakes, (thumbprint) cookies, or danish pastries with it.
- Serve it with chicken or pork chops.
- Eat it plain, like applesauce.
Recipes Using Apple Butter:
- Apple Crumb Bars – replace the apple filling with apple butter.
- Apple Cinnamon Muffins Recipe – use in place of applesauce.
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Homemade Apple Butter
Apple butter is thicker than applesauce with a rich caramelized flavor and warm fragrant spices. It's used as a spread, topping, or snack. This homemade apple butter recipe is easy to make from scratch on the stovetop in as little as two hours.
- 4lbs apples (roughly 10 small-medium apples)
- 1/2 cup apple juice, apple cider, or water
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed*
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Core and chop apples into chunks. Peeling, optional. Place apples into a large stock pot.
- Add apple cider, lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Stir together.
- Cover and cook (light simmer) over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until apples have become very soft. Approximately 1-2 hours, depending on the variety of apple.
- Use an immersion blender to puree apples in pot or spoon into a blender and puree in batches. Return pureed apples to the stovetop to cook for an additional 30-60 minutes or until thick, and a deep brown color. Check doneness by placing a spoonful onto a plate and allow to cool. If there is no water separation, the apple butter is ready.
- Spoon mixture into jars. Refrigerate 3 weeks up to 1 month.
- SUGAR: Keep in mind, the sweetness of your apples will determine how much sugar you will need to add. Apple juice will also add sweetness. Adjust the added sugar according to your apples and preferences.
- TO FREEZE: Spoon apple butter into freezer containers for several months up to one year.
- FOR CANNING: Ladle into sterilized jars, wipe the rims clean, screw on fresh lids and submerge in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and cool to room temperature. Processed jars of apple butter will keep at room temperature for several months.
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