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Apple Butter

November 11, 2010

Apple Butter (Canned)

Every fall the apples down the road from our home turn colors from green to red and I find within my soul an uncontrollable desire to fill my house with yummy apple smells! This year I accomplished this by canning some apple butter. My go-to canning book is the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. Note: Ball also has a great website ( on canning that includes recipes and how-to tips on safe canning procedures.

After purchasing several boxes of apples I spent the afternoon with my trusty apple peeler/corer hand crank machine getting the apples pared down. I find that sitting with knife nearby helps get rid of extra pieces of seeds and core pieces the peeler/corer may miss. I add apples to my stockpot as I break them down.

Once my stockpot is filled I add about an inch of water to the pot, bring it to a boil then let it simmer for “a while.” I go back about every 15 minutes and stir the apples waiting until they get soft and mushy. When they are soft I either stop there and enjoy homemade applesauce, or as in this recipe, continue on to apple butter.

With the apples softened I puree some up until I have 2 quarts apple puree. However thin you puree the apples is how small the apple pieces in the butter will be. The trick though is to not liquefy! Once I have 2 quarts apple puree I dump it in my cast iron dutch oven, add my spices and bring it to a slow simmer. I love this recipe because it is so forgiving. I can leave my pulp simmering, take care of the baby, check facebook and eventually remember that I was cooking something- and race back to the stove to find my pulp is still doing great; and still not ready. I cooked one batch in two hours (far left), one in about four and one in about twenty-four (far right). Twenty-four hours cooking was probably a bit much but it still tasted good at the end.

The finished product.

The goal of the puree is to wait for it to be “thick enough to round up on a spoon.” I recommend consulting the wizards of Ball publishing for what “round up on a spoon” really means. In my mind it means that when I use a cold spoon to drop a sample on a cool plate it stays in a plop like baby poop on solids, not baby poop on milk only. More solid, less oozy.

At the point my puree is nearing completion I get all my canning supplies together. I’m teaching myself to can and have learned the most important thing is preparation! By the time my “product” is ready to can I want to have the water in my canner (with clean empty jars inside) already near a boil, lids on the stove simmering and all the tools and utensils laid out on the counter with towels, hot pads and a bit of wax paper laid out to make clean up easy. I then take one empty jar out of my canner and fill it, remove air bubbles, wipe rim dry, put on lid, and place in canner before taking out the next jar. When all the jars are filled and in canner I put the lid on the canner and wait for it to reach a crazy boil before starting to time the 10 minute processing time. Note that a crazy boil does not mean a few bubbles coming up- it’s when there is a little mini-volcano action going on inside.

Utensils laid out.

Once the 10 minutes are up, remove the canner from the heat and remove the lid. Wait a few minutes for steam to clear then move the jars out onto a spot they can rest for 24 hours before checking for proper seal. It is rewarding to hear the popping but make sure to follow guidelines for checking the seal- don’t just depend on the popping only!

Here is the recipe as it reads in the Ball Blue Book:

4 lb apples (about 16 medium)

4 cups sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cloves

To Prepare Pulp: Wash apples. Core, peel and quarter apples. Combine apples and 2 cups water in large saucepot. Simmer until apples are soft. Puree using food processor or food mill, being careful not to liquefy. Measure 2 quarts apple pulp.

To Make Butter: Combine apple pulp, sugar and spices in a large saucepot. Cook slowly until thick enough to round up on a spoon. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Ladle hot butter into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

All ready to go!

Note: if butter becomes too thick, add water or apple juice for desired consistency.

Yield: about 3 pints

Two final notes- First, follow the recipe exactly! Canning is not the place to be creative unless you understand the science behind it. And have a PH meter. And maybe a science degree? Second, rinse off/out anything the apple butter touches before it dries. It’s very hard to clean it up later!

A Cutie Patootie takes inventory of the new stock!


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