Friday, September 7, 2018

Apple Butter!

#VeganMoFo18 Day 7 - Apple Butter

Please note, this post is meant as an overview of canning apple butter and does not replace or represent itself to be an official guide for proper canning at home. It is important to consult safe canning resources, which are listed at the end of this post.

Photo of stack of half-pint jelly jars full of home canned apple butter.
Stack of home canned apple butter
Now that you've conquered making applesauce, apple butter will be a breeze! Apple butter is, quite simply, highly spiced, sweet, thick, spreadable applesauce. Apples are full of pectin, a gelatinous polysaccharide that thickens in the presence of acid, sugar, and heat, allowing a spreadable jam without adding powdered pectin packets. The name might be confusing to vegan eatersthere's no butter or dairy in apple butterit's totally plant-based! The term butter just refers to the spreadability, like soft dairy butter. You can make butters from other fruits as well, such as peach or pumpkin, but note pumpkin butter cannot be home canned to be shelf-stable, as the mixture is too dense to ensure adequate heating, so it must be refrigerated or frozen.

I use a recipe from the Ball® Fresh Preserving recipe database. It's got great flavor and firms up wonderfully. I do make one deviation, in that I follow the tip at the bottom of the recipe about using brown sugar. However, as a zero-waste vegan, I don't buy brown sugar in the infernal plastic bag, I make it from granulated sugar and molasses, which is what brown sugar is. Brown sugar can be made simply by mixing 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 Tablespoon molassesreally! So in this recipe, I used 3-3/4 cups of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup molasses in place of the sugar.

Photo of a splatter guard over a pot of boiling apple butter.
A splatter guard is really  necessary when making apple butter
You start out just like applesauce. Peel (or not), pare, and core your apples. You'll simmer them in a little bit of water until they are soft and then run through a food mill or food press to puree. Return the sauce to the pot, add sugar and seasonings (cinnamon and cloves), and then cook down until thick. Note, you'll definitely want to put a splatter guard over your pot because this stuff will splatter, shooting boiling, sticky globs of molten applesauce that will cause bad burns and make a sticky mess all over your kitchen. You don't want to keep the lid on because you need the steam to escape and allow the mixture to thicken. Stir frequently during this part, removing the splatter guard away from yourself and holding it to shield from splatters while you stir.

Photo of pot of cooked down apple butter ready to go into jars for canning.
Cooked down apple butter
The recipe says to cook until the mixture mounds on a spoon. This can be confusing for people because it's not really measurable, it's more of a look and feeling, and a fairly old jellying term. It means that when you scoop the mixture up with a spoon, it fairly holds its own shape, higher in the middle and sloping down to the edges of the spoon, rather than being a liquid that pours off to be level with the edges of the bowl of the spoon. I like to get a spoonful and set it on a trivet or plate to cool to see what the cooled consistency is, that works the best for me, as the mounding business is just a bit too subjective for me. The final consistency of the canned apple butter will be firmer than the cooled spoon.

When you reach your desired consistency, can as you did applesauce. Use times listed in the recipe, adjusting for altitude, if applicable.


There are some great resources available for home canning. Internet resources are fantastic as they are generally most up to date. There are some standby books, but remember to get new ones every few years to be current with updated guidelines.

Photo of a square plate of toast spread with apple butter. Also pictured is an apple, some cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and jar of apple butter.
Apple butter on toast

I do hope you try making apple butter. It is very delicious and makes wonderful gifts. Use it on toast or as a filling in an autumn cake. And it's amazing, no trimazing, on pancakes!

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