This is my recipe for spiced apple butter. I made it up as I went along a while back and it's one of my favorites!
I find most apple butter to be a little too sweet for me, so I decided to try making my own. This is a zesty and fresh apple butter with loads of spices. The spices do mellow out a bit while cooking, though, so it's not too overwhelming. :D
If you're not as excited about spiced apple butter, you should be able to omit everything but the cinnamon and add a little more sugar to get a more traditional apple butter.
You can really use whatever apples you like to make this apple butter recipe, so it's great for using up loads of them if you're drowning in them this time of year! Just make sure you have some firm apples mixed in if you're using lots of mealy apples like red delicious so the texture is nicer and a little less wet.
Step 1: Ingredients + Tools
- 5 pounds apples (I'm using a mix of honeycrisp and jazz)
- 1/2 - 1 cup brown sugar (I used 3/4 cup here)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- zest of one lemon
- 2 cups water
- salt to taste (optional)
- large pot for cooking the apple butter
- potato masher or pastry cutter for smashing the apples
- food mill, sieve, food processor or blender for finishing the apple butter
- jars for storing it
Step 2: Wash, Core and Chop the Apples
Wash the apples well - we'll be using the skin of the apple in this butter!
Cut the apples into quarters and remove the core. Then roughly chop the apples and place them in the pot you'll be cooking in.
Step 3: Add the Spices, Sugar, Lemon Zest and Water
Add the spices and sugar (I recommend starting with a half cup!) and then zest the lemon over the top. Stir to combine.
Pour over the two cups of water and then mix again.
This will look like too little water, but the apples will release liquid as well!
Step 4: Cook Over Medium Low Heat for 1 1/2 Hours
Put the pan over medium heat and let the water come up to a good bubble and then turn the heat down a bit. For the first 45 minutes, I like to simmer it with the lid cracked. The second 45 minutes, I just take the lid completely off.
Nearing the end of the hour and a half, you should have very little to no liquid left and the apples should be nice and soft. If you find your liquid disappearing before then, add in 1/4 cup more and turn your heat down a little more.
Step 5: Mash the Apples and Cook a Bit Longer
Using a potato masher or a pastry cutter (what I used!), mash the apples as well as you can. Mashing the apples makes sure there are no huge pieces of apple that will be left crunchy. The apples should look like chunky applesauce when you're done!
Turn the heat down to low, and cook for another 30 minutes or so, stirring every few minutes. At this point we're just trying to remove a little more liquid and concentrate the flavors a bit - the apples should get darker as they cook!
Step 6: Process the Apple Butter
You can do this in a variety of ways, so just use whatever tools you have available!
You can use a food mill, a sieve, an immersion (stick) blender, a regular blender, or a food processor. Whatever works! I'm using an immersion blender just because it's easy. :)
Make it as smooth or chunky as you like - I like mine mostly smooth with just a few chunks!
After you process, taste the apple butter. This is the point where you'll want to add more sugar or spices. You can also add some salt if you think it needs it! I added a pinch. If you do add more in, cook it for another five minutes or so. That way you'll be sure everything is well combined.
You can also continue to cook the apple butter for longer after this - it's all up to you! While I normally go right to storing, cooking it longer here can give you a more intense apple flavor. Just make sure to keep it on low and stir often so it doesn't end up sticking to the pan.
Step 7: Store the Apple Butter and Enjoy!
I'm using 12 oz jelly jars to store my apple butter. This recipe easily fills up four of those.
I normally keep one jar of the butter in the fridge and the rest in the freezer and switch them out as needed. Whenever I make it, it means I'm really craving it so it does not last long! :)
Storing in the fridge: this apple butter should be good for about a month in the fridge. I've heard of people storing apple butter for months and months in the fridge, but I've never been able to. As soon as it smells differently or you can see mold, it's time to get rid of it.
Storing in the freezer: 6-12 months if well sealed - after that you're probably gonna be facing some terrible freezer burn. :P
Canning: If you know how to can, this recipe is great that way! How long you store it is really up to your own iron stomach.