Apple Butter

I’ve been wanting to make apple butter since last fall and knew when I saw the Rome Beauties at the market the other day, now was the time.  I don’t often see Romes here, but when I do, I think of all the lovely things I might cook, because they’re the perfect apple to cook with.  Their somewhat mild flavor intensifies richly with cooking.

Why apple butter?  Why not apple pie, or apple cobbler, baked apples, a pandowdy, buckle, or slump?

Outside of apple butter being another thing I can check off my “Made it Myself” list which threatens my sanity from time to time, it’s a flavorful fat-free substitute for butter on my morning toast.  Once in the habit, you don’t miss the butter.  I like to stir it into oatmeal or hot Grape Nuts instead of milk and sugar, and it swirls nicely into a cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of granola.

When I started looking for a recipe, I was surprised to find most were loaded with sugar — sometimes as much as four cups.  I found one that contains far less and you can make it in the slow cooker like I did, or on the stove in far less time.

Make it on a chilly day when you want the whole house to smell sweet and spicy.  You’ll have the people you love wanting to know what you’re cooking.

Apple Butter

1 c. dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. honey

2 T rice vinegar

1/4 c. water

1 lg. cinnamon stick

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/8 tsp. ground mace

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

2-1/4 lb. Rome Beauties (4 lb.)

Core the apples and cut into large chunks.  Add the apples along with all other ingredients to the bowl of a large slow cooker.  Cover it and cook on low for 10 hours.

Once apples are softened, discard the cinnamon stick and scoop apples with a slotted spoon into a mesh strainer.  With the back of a spoon or spatula, mash the apples to extract fruit as possible.  Discard the remaining pulp.

Return the strained contents to the slow cooker and mix with whatever remaining juice is left.  Cook for an additional 1-1/2 hours on high, stirring from time to time.

Scrape apple butter into a sealable container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

rome beauties are best

chop them up, but go ahead and leave the peelings on

add a cinnamon stick & honey (thanks, Becky!)

a pinch of smidgen dash

put everything in the bowl

give it a good stir before you put the lid on

slow cooked 10 hours

makes 24 oz. of spicy sweet tart apple butter

slather it on your morning toast

Notes:

  • This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light’s “Overnight Apple Butter.” To view the stovetop variation, click the link.
  • Historically, apple butter was made simply by poaching apples in apple cider.  I didn’t have apple cider, and quite frankly didn’t want to add more sugar, so used a bit of vinegar and water instead.
  • I left the peelings on the apples, because if I can, I usually do.  I can’t stand getting rid of all those nutrients and I love the texture.
  • Speaking of texture, I used a chinois to strain the apple butter and was left with not much in the way of pulp, so ended up adding that back to the mixture.  The peelings had cooked nearly completely down so it made sense.
  • After the final cook on high, I allowed the mixture to cool down completely in the slow cooker.  By this morning, it was a nice consistency with a delicious sweet tart flavor that was perfect on my toast.
  • If you’d like to know how to properly can apple butter, then Elise of Simply Recipes has an outstanding post on making and canning.

For further consideration:

  • To be honest, not much goes into this recipe, but I did pay $1.99/lb. for the Rome Beauties which cost nearly $5.00.  I ended up with three 8-oz. containers of apple butter.
  • The apple butter I’ve been purchasing (R.W. Knudsen Family Organic Apple Butter) — and no I’m not being paid to say it — comes in a 16 oz. jar and sells for under $4.00.  There are only two ingredients in their apple butter:  apples and apple juice concentrate.  It’s velvety smooth, a deep caramel color, and quite delicious.
  • In a taste comparison test, the spices in the recipe I made are subtle in flavor, but do make a difference.  And there’s a slight tang I also like.  Does that mean I’ll make my own apple butter when I run out?  Not necessarily. But it’s a great recipe — more than just something to check off my list.
  • Now, I’m wondering about apple butter swirl gelato…and I have a gelato recipe that isn’t swimming in fat.

39 thoughts on “Apple Butter

  1. I’m not really sure why but I always related “butter” to something really fatty and that was the reason I never tried making any fruit butter at home 🙂 Stupid me!
    This apple butter looks and sounds delicious!

    1. It’s odd that it’s called butter, but the idea is a very old one dating back several hundred years. Who knows — maybe the idea of it being called butter helps it go down. 🙂

    1. Thanks! I love the spice in it. If I hadn’t done the comparison, I’m not sure I would have noticed it as much. I love a nice tart apple pie, and this recipe makes me think of that.

    1. Thank very much. A little bit of everything on the lighting with these — some 100% natural light, some a combination, and one 100% artificial, and basic kitchen light to boot.

    1. I’ve always thought this particular variety of apples reminds me of the one Snow White took a bite of. Wait. Sleeping Beauty? 🙂 I did wonder about a swirl of apple butter in a nutty cupcake topped with cream cheese icing. doesn’t that sound delicious?

  2. I made it once too and it was delicious! The peels have lots of pectin so by leaving the apples unpeeled you get the thickening effect much faster.

    1. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at canning, but haven’t gotten there yet. Good to know there’s a much better reason for leaving the peelings on!

  3. The apple butter looks and sounds wonderful ~ nice and tart ( the way I like it). Beautiful coffee cup ~ the coffee looks just right. Your honey looks so light and creamy ~ a gift I see ~ from Texas?

    1. Yes, a gift from Texas. My husband works with a wonderful woman who spent some time there last summer, I think. Delicious honey 🙂 The cup is from Anthropologie, a store I love that sells all kinds of Bohemian kinds of things. I could browse around in there all day!

  4. One of my favorite stores too~ (only 1 in my state!) We were in New Orleans this past weekend for our anniversary and I got to browse and shop ~ I can always find something wonderful and different.

  5. When I think of applebutter, I think of gaggles of old women, sitting outside in the fall, peeling and paring and cooking over a huge pot. I never considered making my own in a crock pot! Thanks for the step by step instructions and inspiration!
    BTW, noticed you are going to BHF – I want to go, too! Still saving up for my ticket – hope they don’t see out before I get it together!

    1. Funny, but I have the same images when I think of apple butter and am not sure where they come from. Nobody in my family ever made it. Yes, I’m finally going to a BlogHer event after nearly four years of blogging. The timing has always been bad for me — pretty excited and looking forward to new friends. Best to you on getting there yourself!

  6. The great thing about making apple butter instead of apple pie is that you’ll get to enjoy the fruit of you labor longer than a few days, yum. Thanks for the recipe! I haven’t thought about apple butter since I was a kid but now that you’ve reminded me I’m craving some.

    1. Thanks — savoring it on day two, and really glad I made it. Now I need to figure out the canning thing, because having it last only a week isn’t great for me. Let me know how it goes if you make some!

  7. Honestly, I don’t ever think I’ve seen apple butter look this good. You’ve tempted me to the point where I’m about to start peeling the apples to make this. we still have local apples available here (from storage) so I’m definitely going to try it. Any tips on storing it?

    1. El, outside of saying to can it, I wish I knew. My mother experimented with freezer canning once when we had tons of tomatoes and berries. It didn’t involve the same process as regular canning. I’ll look around for some ideas and add them in the notes section.

  8. Ohhhhhh – so that’s why my apple butter never came out well! Thanks for the tip about using a slow cooker, which I don’t have. Great reason to finally go and buy one -I love apple butter and yours looks perfect! Is there a reason you can’t do a 20 minute hot water bath after canning ( with new lids, of course)? I do that with canning fruits in simple syrup.

    1. Katrina, you’d probably know better than I would. I honestly have never had a reason to can anything because I’ve never had a garden big enough to produce too much to eat. I am curious, though.

  9. I’ve got to admit, part of what I enjoy about your blog is that I always learn something worth knowing. Apple butter is one of the lovelier things in this world — and it always amazes me that it’s really so easy. Next fall when apples are in season, I’m going to remember this post and make some of my own!

    1. Thanks — I appreciate the feedback. I’m slowly working on the “in season” aspect of eating veggies, but we eat apples all year long, just like citrus and bananas. Not too sure how to replace those staples 🙂

  10. Hmmm apple butter. Those apples are really gorgeous. I think I’ve seen them down here. Or maybe I’ll have to go to the biggest market on earth to look for them 😀

  11. That looks truly wonderful! Any other suggested apple varieties if Rome Beauties aren’t available?
    My wife and I have lived in CT our whole lives, but when she went to college in Pennsylvania she discovered and fell in love with apple butter. Thinking it was a regional specialty (because she had never heard of it before then) she brought home a jar of it whenever she was on break. Imagine her excitement when she discovered it on our store shelves! lol … I’ll have to try and cook up a jar for her as a gift, now. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Zachariah 🙂 Honestly, if I hadn’t seen the Romes I probably would have used what we usually have in our fridge — either Braeburns or Fujis. We love green apples most, and though I usually make pie with those, I did wonder how they’d work in apple butter. Living where you do, I’ll be you have your pick of some amazing varieties of apples, don’t you?

      1. Yeah, in peak season the typical grocery store has about 12 or so varieties. When things wind down it’s only about 4 or 5 at best. I haven’t seen Rome Beauties around, but I suppose they must be similar to Romes. When I was a produce manager I loved to set up the displays so that the Rome Apples were next to the Empire Apples … “Rome’n’Empire” … too cheesy?
        Anyhow, Braeburns are plentiful, so I’ll have a stab at it with those. Thanks!

  12. It’s on my to-make-list! The thing that kept me from making it is that I wonder what the difference is between apple sauce and apple butter… besides the color. and the texture. and the flavour. My slowcooker is ready I think I must make it to see for myself! Thks for the recipe!

  13. This sounds absolutely delicious! I also want to steal your dash/smidgen/pinch spoons 😀 😀

    This would also taste fantastic on French toast or hot scones out of the oven 🙂

  14. Pingback: apple butter

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