Apple butter is the spicier, super concentrated cousin of applesauce. There’s no butter in it, just chopped up apples, apple cider, brown sugar, honey and warming spices. We add a little apple cider vinegar and lemon to balance out the sweet stuff. All of that goes in a pot on the smallest burner of your stove, where it simmers, bubbles and splatters away for hours — until the sugars caramelize.
The result is a molasses brown apple butter with a wonderful texture — thick, jammy smooth and super spreadable. It’s so scrumptious, you’ll want to eat it with a spoon, but it tastes marvelous on food. Apple butter pairs beautifully with salty sweet cream butter. Think toast, waffles, and our personal favorite, hot buttermilk biscuits. It’s so handy in baking because you can layer it into cakes, sweet rolls and bars — yes, apple butter bars are a thing! And we use it for savory dishes, too: cheese plates, mashed sweet potatoes and braised pork.
Our tip: Between the sugars, apple cider vinegar and lemon, apple butter has a much longer shelf life than applesauce. You can keep it in the fridge for up to six weeks. Apple butter is such a great way to use up apples, you may want to make an extra quart or two and give some away to friends and family — it makes a delightful hostess gift.
Yield 1-quart jars
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 ½ hours
5 lbs apples, peeled, cored, seeded and chopped
½ cup apple cider
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground clove
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice to finish
Special equipment: 1-quart jar
- In a medium heavy-bottomed pot, combine the apples, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and clove and cook on low heat until apples are very soft, about 45 minutes.
- Remove the apple mixture from the heat and using a stand blender or an immersion blender, purée it until it’s smooth.
- Transfer the mixture back to pot if you are using a stand blender and cook it over medium-low heat until it turns a dark amber color and the texture is smooth, about 1 hour.
- Season the apple butter with salt, stir in the lemon juice and remove it from the heat.
- Allow the apple butter to cool and transfer it to the jar. Apple butter will keep for up to 6 weeks refrigerated