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Apple Butter Recipe for Canning

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Learn how to make this apple butter recipe for canning and enjoy your house smelling like autumn! Made with 4 simple ingredients, apple butter makes for a great spread on a piece of breakfast toast or smothered over pork chops for dinner.

Healthy apple butter is hard to find in stores, so canning your own will save on the grocery budget, and you can have peace of mind serving it to your family.

Fall is apple season, and it’s a great time of the year for buying apples in bulk to preserve the fruit while in season.

What is Apple Butter?

Apple butter is fresh apples cooked down to a thick paste and flavored with spices such as cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and a liquid that can be water, apple cider, or apple juice. Then simmered or cooked for a period to remove the liquid to create a delicious spreadable paste.

What’s The Different Between Apple Butter and Apple Sauce?

Applesauce is a chunky or smooth sauce made with only apples and a possible hint of cinnamon. Apple sauce is completed relatively quickly in about 20 minutes. In comparison, apple butter is concentrated applesauce flavored with spices. It’s cooked longer and then milled into a puree and cooked even longer to remove liquid to make a more dense paste.

Best Apples for Making Apple Butter

Apple butter recipe for canning - pint jar of homemade apple butter sitting on a surface with fresh apples and other jars

Any variety of apples will work for making apple butter, but softer varieties tend to make the best apple butter. Many recipes call for mixing different varieties for flavor, but I buy apples by the bushels, so mixing is not something I tend to do.

My favorite apple is the Mutsu Apple; some call it a Crispin Apple. It has soft white flesh with a yellow-gold peel and is a beautiful all-around apple for cooking or canning.

Other apple varieties that make good apple butter are:

  • Fuji
  • McIntosh
  • Gala
  • Johnathan
  • Golden Delicious
apple butter recipe for canning - bushel of fresh apples in a basket

Money-Saving Tips for Buying Fresh Apples

  • Buy when in season – Apples are harvested in the fall, so make plans to buy in bulk in the fall.
  • Pick your own – If you have a neighbor with trees that do not use them, ask for them – they may give them to you for free!
  • Shop at Farmers Markets – Farmers grow large commercial orchards, so buying directly costs less to the consumer.
  • Plant your own trees – It takes 3 years for an apple tree to produce, so it’s possible to grow your own.
  • Buy Seconds – If you have access to a local orchard, ask about “seconds.” Seconds are fine for eating fresh and for canning. They may not be “pretty,” making it hard to sell them in the supermarket.

We use a lot of apples. Therefore seconds work well for saving us money! In addition, I buy several bushels each fall for canning, dehydrating, and making fall treats like apple muffins from scratch for breakfast.

Related Recipes: Homemade Apple Cider drink and fermented Apple Cider Vinegar

Alternatives To Cooking On The Stovetop

The most common way of cooking apples for canning apple butter is on the stovetop. The stovetop is my preferred method, and my family insists the flavor is enhanced since it allows the liquid to evaporate while slowly cooking.

homemade apple butter recipe for canning - stock pots cooking on the stovetop to make home apple butter

Cooking on the stovetop does require being observed to prevent sticking, though. When canning season is in full swing, I schedule and plan to be in the kitchen a lot, so the stovetop is a convenient way for me.

But, if spending time in the kitchen is not for you, two alternative ways to cook apples are the slow cooker and the microwave.

  • Crock-Pot Recipes – To use a slow cooker or crockpot, place apples in it on high with the lid ajar. You can use a wooden spoon or a spatula across the top to keep the lid ajar, allowing steam to slowly escape. Stir often to encourage evaporation and blend apples as they soften. Depending on the temperature of your slow cooker, the cooking time could vary from 6+ hours up to 10-12 hours.
  • Microwave Recipe – Though this method is much faster than a stovetop and slow cooker, however, we feel the flavor is sacrificed. Place apples in a microwave-safe bowl uncovered. Set a timer for 30 minutes and cook on high. Stir every 5-10 minutes. This time can vary a bit depending on the power of your microwave.

Uses for Homemade Apple Butter

  • Spreading on hot homemade biscuits
  • Use as the filling in an Old Fashioned Apple Stack Cake.
  • Smother pork chops to add a sweet-savory flavor
  • Use as a spread on toast
  • Making apple butter cookies

Apple Butter Recipe For Canning

For this recipe, I used 5 pounds of Mutsu apples. They are sweet, crisp apples that make for a perfect saucing apple.

NOTE: Apples don’t have to be peeled and cored, making things faster. But if you do peel and core, peels can be frozen and used later for making apple jelly or homemade apple pectin.

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds of good cooking apples ( as mentioned, I use Mutsu)
  • 3 cups of sugar* ( I use this one for canning)
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups apple cider

Special Equipment

Instructions:

1. Wash apples in cold water, core, and slice. (Peeling is optional, I don’t peel). There is a lot of pectin in the peels that enhance flavor. Also, when apples are run through a food mill, the heat will separate the peels. (NOTE: If you peel and core, don’t throw out the peels! These can be frozen in Ziploc bags to be used for making apple jelly.

2. Quarter or cut apples into small chunks.

3. Pour into a large stockpot with 2 cups of apple cider.

Apple Butter Recipe for Canning - chunked apples in a post with apple cider being poured into the pot

4. Simmer on medium until apples are soft, often stirring to prevent sticking. Once soft, mash with a food mill, immersion blender, or whisk. (I use this food mill; it makes pureeing apples a breeze).

5. Measure and pour 2 quarts (8 cups) of blended apples back into the pot, add sugar and spices, and cook on low-medium heat until desired thickness, often stirring to prevent sticking.

Apple Butter Recipe for Canning - apple in a food mill getting pureed for making  homemade apple butter recipe for canning

TIP: If the apple butter becomes too thick, you can add a small amount of apple cider or apple juice to thin it.

To know when apple butter is ready to be canned, use this old-fashioned trick: Scoop a teaspoon out, and if it “mounds” on the spoon, it is thick and ready to be canned.

spoon full of old fashioned apple butter recipe for canning over a jar

RELATED: Use “The Complete Beginners Guide To Home Canning” and get comfortable with home canning.

How to Water Bath Can Apple Butter

NOTE: Before using jars, follow these sterilization directions.

1 Ladle and fill hot sterile jars with apple butter, leaving a ½ inch headspace, and remove air bubbles.

2 Clean jar rim with a clean cloth, then center flat canning lid on, place the band on, and adjust to fingertight.

3 Place jars on the rack elevated over hot water (180° or higher).

4 Repeat until jars are filled, then slowly lower rack into hot water, cover jars by at least 1 inch.

5 Increase stove temperature to high, cover water bath canner with the lid, bring to a rapid boil, reduce heat slightly, keeping rapid boil active.

6 Process both half-pints and pints for 10 minutes.

7 Turn off the heat, remove the lid and allow jars to cool in the water for 5 minutes. Then carefully lift the rack out of the water and remove jars from the canner using a jar lifter.

8 Do not tighten bands if they are loose. Set aside on a towel and allow to cool for 12 hours. Then, check seals, label, and store.

TIP: Allow freshly canned apple butter to sit for 7-10 days before enjoying it. This gives the flavor time to meld and blend to soften the sharpness of the flavor.

There you have it! You and your family will love this easy apple butter recipe. It makes for the perfect classic fall recipe.

But be warned; you will want to make several batches. Homemade apple butter makes for a great hostess gift or teacher gift at Christmas.

More Fall Recipes:

The Complete Beginners Guide to Home Canning eBook ad. Shows an image of the eBook cover with text overlay that reads The Complete Beginners Guide to Home Canning  with an Instant Download Button.
Yield: 3 pints

Apple Butter Recipe For Canning

Apple Butter Recipe For Canning

This easy old-fashioned apple butter recipe is full of flavor and tastes so good. Keep it in the refrigerator or can it to enjoy all winter season.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds of good cooking apples ( as mentioned, I use Mutsu)
  • 3 cups of sugar*
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups apple cider

Equipment

  • Water Bath Canner with Rack
  • 3 - 8oz. Canning Jars with Lids and Bands
  • Large 8-quart Stockpot
  • Food Mill or Immersion Blender
  • Ladle & Jar Lifter

Instructions

  1. Wash apples in cold water, core, and slice. (peeling is optional) Quarter or cut apples into small chunks.
  2. Pour apples and apple cider into a large stockpot; Simmer on medium until apples are soft, often stirring to prevent sticking. Once softened, mash with a food mill or immersion blender to puree.
  3. Measure 2 quarts (8 cups) of apple puree, pour blended apples back into the pot, add sugar and spices, and cook on low-medium heat until desired thickness, often stirring to prevent sticking. Cook until the mixture is thick.
  4. Ladle and fill hot sterile jars with apple butter, leaving a ½-inch headspace, remove air bubbles, and clean the jar rim with a damp cloth. Next, center the flat canning lid on the rim, put on the band and adjust it to finger-tight. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  5. Lower rack into hot water, and cover jars with 1 inch of water. Adjust the temperature to medium-high, cover the water bath canner with the lid, and bring it to a rapid boil, keeping the rapid boil active. Process both half-pints and pints for 10 minutes at a rapid boil.
  6. Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid and allow jars to cool in the water for 5 minutes. Then carefully lift the rack out of the water and remove jars from the canner using a jar lifter. Do not tighten bands if they are loose. Set aside on a towel and allow to cool for 12 hours. Then, check seals, label, and store.

Notes

TIP: Allow freshly canned apple butter to sit for 7-10 days before enjoying it. This gives the flavor time to meld and blend to soften the sharpness of the flavor.

* I use unbleached pure cane sugar, which is not as sweet.

apple butter recipe for canning - spoon of fresh apple butter and a jar of apple butter with text overlay that reads Homemade Apple Butter Canning Recipe

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