Making Apple Butter

Apple season is inescapable in Vermont. The apple orchards are buzzing with pickers, weekends are booked with apple or cider festivals of one sort or another and we munch on the sweetest, freshest, crunchiest apples several times a day.

I have filled many bags, the most aesthetically pleasing ones have been eaten and the rest are perfect for making apple sauce and apple butter.   The cinnamon-apple aroma that fills the kitchen while it is in the oven is reason enough to give this easy recipe a try.  And if you want a nice homemade gift, just make a bigger batch!

Apple Butter

  • roughly 4 lbs apples (any and all varieties, can be the “forgotten” ones)
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 lemon for zesting (roughly 1 Tsp)
  • maple syrup or honey (optional and to taste)
  1. Wash apples and quarter them.  The healthiest and easiest way to make apple sauce is to use a foodmill. This method allows you to leave all the peel and core on the quarters, giving you all apple nutrients and cutting prep time considerably.
  2. Put apple quarters, apple cider or juice, and vinegar in a large pot. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and cook until apple pieces become soft (roughly 30 minutes).
  3. Push the cooked apple mixture through a foodmill to create deliciously freshly-made apple sauce.  You may well want to stop here and just get out the bowls and spoons.
  4. However, if you are interested in apple butter : preheat oven to 350 degrees and add additional ingredients, using varieties and amounts of spices and lemon zest to your taste.  I don’t like to overwhelm the naturally sweet taste of apples with additional sweetener, but you can add maple syrup or honey at this stage.  Pour mixture into large baking dish.
  5. Bake for 1-2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes to make sure the apple butter forms evenly.  Once the mixture reaches a “buttery” consistency, remove from oven and spoon into canning jars. As an extra bonus, you’ll find the mixture along the sides of the dish, where it was spread thinly will have formed into strips of fruit leather.
Similar to apple butter, is pumpkin butter.  Have you tried it?  We’ve found it at Trader Joe’s, which only seems to carry it in certain stores and only in the fall.  One of my daughters loves it so much, it is on her Christmas wish list!  Without a Trader Joe’s nearby, I’ve put a red kuri squash (a hardy winter squash very similar, but I think even sweeter than, a pie pumpkin) in the oven.  I will scoop out the soft, cooked flesh once it is done and add it to my apple sauce mixture.  Then, I’ll follow the above to make a pumpkin-apple butter.
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