Friday, November 4, 2011

The Apple Butter Recipe

UPDATE: This was the one time I used a food processor and I really didn't like the texture of the apple butter it produced.  I've gone back to using the ricer. (If you don't know what a ricer is, read this post.) Also, don't tell but I don't always peel the apples before cooking. When you run the cooked apples through the ricer, the peels get separated from the sauce.  Yes, I know its probably healthier to remove the peels (and any insecticide residue) before cooking but sometimes compromises must be made when the helpful husband is not available to operate the apple peeler.

You don't need very many ingredients to make apple butter.

  • Apples- my grandmother always used Jonathan apples.  So do I.  I usually buy about 1/2 bushel which is something like 40 apples. I've never tried them but you could probably use other varieties of apples such as Gala.  Just don't use those nasty red delicious apples.
  • Sugar- the white granulated kind
  • Oil of cinnamon- Grandma used to buy this at the drugstore.  I don't think you'll find it at your local Walgreen's least I haven't.  I get mine from here.  It takes years to use it all up.
  • Red Hots cinnamon candies
  • Water
Equipment you'll need:
  • an apple peeler or corer
  • a large pot or two for cooking the apples
  • a ricer or food processor (if you're wondering what the heck is a ricer, see this post.
  • a crock pot
  • a water bath canner
  • canning jars and lids
I like to peel my apples first.  It helps if you have one of these....
                                                        apple peeler and a helpful husband.
Once the apples are peeled, cook them covered pan with a very small amount of water (no more than 1/3 cup) over medium heat, stirring frequently so all the apples are cooked evenly.  You may have to do this in multiple batches.

When the apples are cooked, put them through the food processor 3 or 4 cups at a time. Process a few seconds until smooth.  Be careful not to over-process don't want baby food or apple paste!

And keep some of the cooked apples un-processed.  
Warm cooked apples sprinkled with cinnamon sugar are yummy all by themselves.  Topped with vanilla ice cream they're heaven.

Put the pureed apples into a crock pot.  This is a 7 qt one. 

Don't fill the crock brim full.  Leave room for the sugar and for simmering.  Otherwise you'll have little spots of hot apple butter all over your countertop. Not that I've ever done that. Ahem.  If you have more sauce than crock pot, refrigerate the extra and cook it the next day.  Or just eat it.
Add 3 cups of sugar to the crock pot to start.  You can always add more later.    
Put the cover on and cook on high for an hour or until hot and bubbly.

Now comes the magic secret ingredient....

Add 3 or 4 drops to the hot applesauce.  That's it.  No more.  A little of this stuff goes a long way.  I use an eye dropper to measure it.  Cinnamon oil is strong stuff. Be sure to rinse the eye dropper out immediately after use.  If you leave the oil in the dropper overnight, it will melt the plastic.  Not that I've ever done that...cough, cough.
Add a handful or two of red hots.  They give the apple butter a nice color.

Continue to cook on low for 3 or 4 hours.  Stir frequently scraping the sides of the pot as you go.  If you don't the sauce next to the pot sides gets thicker than the rest because the sugar is direct contact with the hot pot.  
Taste and add more sugar if necessary.  If the apple butter seems a little thin, remove the crock lid and cook for another hour or so, letting the extra moisture evaporate a little and thicken the apple butter.  It should be thick and a rich reddish brown.
While your apple butter is cooking wash your jars in the dishwasher using the heated dry setting.  
Here's how my apple butter looked at the end of cooking.

Now for the canning part.  Remove the wire basket that came with it and fill your canner with water. There should be a little metal tray that comes with your canner.  Be sure to put it in before you heat the water.  The tray keeps the jars from coming into direct contact with bottom of the pot. Heat the water to boiling.  This will take a little time. It goes a little faster if you put the lid on the canner. (If you have one of those flat cook tops forget everything I just said and take your stuff to a friend's house. You can't use a canner on flat cooktops as it will break them.)
Put the jar lids you will be using in a cake pan and pour boiling water on them.  Set the aside.

When you are ready to fill them, take the warm jars out of the dishwasher.  
You will need one of these funnels.  

It keeps the jar rim clean while you are filling it which is important for getting a good seal
When you fill them leave about 1/2 inch at the top. Check to make sure there is nothing on the jar rim (if there is, wipe it off with a damp paper towel.) and put on the lid and screw band.
As you fill each jar place it in the wire basket that came with your canner.  When it is full, drop the basket into the canner. 

The water should be at a full boil.
Now this next part is important.  Are you listening?
There should be enough water in the canner to cover the jars by about an inch.  If you get the jars in the canner and there isn't, ADD MORE.  I usually keep a tea kettle of hot water on the stove while I'm canning for this purpose.  After you add the water wait for it come back to a full boil.

Now put the lid on the canner and set a timer for ten minutes. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat and remove the jars.  You could lift the whole basket out but I prefer to take the jars out one at a time with one of these nifty jar lifters.

 As the jars cool you will hear a little *plink* sound.  This is a happy sound.  It means your jar just sealed.  After the jars are cooled you can check the seal by pressing on the lid.  If it gives even a little bit, it didn't seal. This does not mean you are a failure.  Sometimes jars just don't seal.  Put that jar in the frig and move on.

And that's about it.  Apple butter is great on toast and biscuits.  Its also good with peanut butter.  Use it in place of the "J" in your PBJ sandwich.
If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will answer them.
Have fun!


  1. I just want to thank you so much! I have been trying to remember my Grannie's secret ingredient for years (she never wrote down her recipes and, unfortunately, I wasn't interested in cooking while she was alive). When I saw your post and read the part about red hots, it was like all those memories of her doing this in the background while I read a book came flooding back. I kid you not, I almost cried. You have no idea how much you have inadvertantly made my day. THANK YOU...THANK YOU...THANK YOU.


    p.s. I've never heard of using cinamon oil and I'm definitely going to try it in my first attempt at making some imitation of my Grannie's apple butter.

  2. Becky, I'm so glad this sparked a memory for you! But I'll warn you...if you make your Grannie's apple butter your whole family will beat a path to your door! So make extra!


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