Is there anything more quintessentially autumnal than picking apples and turning them into delectable, cozy treats? I certainly don’t think so. Enter this homemade apple butter recipe!
Apple “butter” is a bit of a misnomer. It does not actually contain butter, but instead gets its name from the consistency and typical use (as a spread on toast). My apple butter recipe requires no food mill, no pectin, and no canning — just a few simple ingredients to create a delectable spread. Using apple cider vinegar instead of water beautifully enhances the flavor, and also helps it stay fresh for a long time.
Making apple butter is a perfect way to use up your “seconds” and less-than-perfect apples, making sure nothing goes to waste. I have made this with many different apple types, even wild crabapples, and it turns out delicious every time. (You could use a similar method with other starchy fruits like pears, or even winter squash! Pumpkin butter, anyone?)
Serve it all by itself on hot toast (my favorite) or pancakes, or get creative! You could stir a little into your apple crumble or pie filling before baking to amp up the flavor, whisk a spoonful together with vinegar and oil to make a sweet-tangy salad dressing, or mix with a little melted butter for a delectable apple “caramel” to top your oatmeal or rice pudding.
Without further ado, here is my apple butter recipe!
Sky Meadow Spiced Apple Butter
Makes around 3-4 cups
- 2 pounds apples (around 6 large or 8-12 small)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon and/or other warming fall spices of choice*
- 2-2.5 cups raw cane sugar or brown sugar**
- pinch of salt (optional)
* I most often use a combination of half cinnamon and half pumpkin pie spice blend. Allspice, cloves, a pinch of nutmeg, or even a swig of vanilla extract (added at the very end of cooking) are all great options. Cardamom and ginger would also be lovely! If you like a little more or less spice, feel free to adjust accordingly to your taste.
** Don’t skimp on the sugar. I know it might seem like a lot, but it’s an important part of helping your apple butter to set properly. The sweetness also helps to balance the cider vinegar, round out the flavors, and help keep it from spoiling.
1. Wash and core the apples, leaving skins on. Cut into large chunks about 1-1.5″ each, removing any damaged spots as you go. Add the cores to your compost (or get extra homesteady and save them for homemade apple scrap vinegar!).
2. Add the apples to a wide saucepan along with the cider vinegar. (You’ll be reducing this, so a wide, shallow vessel that still gives you plenty of headroom to stir is ideal.) Cover and bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the apples don’t stick.
3. When the apples are soft and falling apart, transfer to a blender and purée until the consistency is silky-smooth and the skins are well broken down. You may need to do this in batches if your blender is small.
4. Return the purée to your saucepan on the lowest heat setting. Stir in the spices, 2 cups of sugar, and pinch of salt (if desired). Allow it to reduce, uncovered, stirring frequently to make sure the bottom doesn’t stick.
5. After your apple butter has reduced for a few minutes, give it a taste and add more sugar if you’d like it sweeter. Feel free to add more spices too, if you’d like.
6. After it’s reduced for another 20-30 minutes, check the consistency by spooning a little bit of apple butter onto a small plate and allowing it to cool. If you’re happy with it, you can turn it off at this point. Otherwise, continue to reduce and check the consistency every several minutes until it’s to your liking.
7. Turn off the heat, ladle into glass jars and allow to cool to room temperature on the counter. Keep it in the fridge to use immediately, or freeze for later! (Be sure to leave a good inch of headspace in the jars if freezing.)
That’s it! Your apple butter will keep for weeks or even months in the fridge, and up to a year in the freezer. (If it even lasts that long!) It makes a wonderful gift too, so feel free to double the recipe and share the apple love.