Everything You Need to Know About Making Apple Butter Without a Recipe

We've got all the information you need on apple butter, including how to make it without a recipe.

Apple Butter
Photo: Michael Grayson / Getty Images

There's something special about a bounty of sweet apples baked down into a rich, spreadable treat that's infused with the warming notes of cinnamon, brown sugar, ginger, and any other spices that your heart desires. In order to achieve that particular fall feeling, we turn to that seasonal delight: apple butter.

What is apple butter?

The first thing you should know is that apple butter is not made from butter. There isn't even any butter in it at all; it gets the name for having a similar texture and spreadability to room temperature butter. Apple butter is a sweetened, lightly spiced and concentrated apple jam that can be spread on a variety of goods, most commonly on toast. The texture is smoother than jam and thicker than applesauce – think of it as velvety, browned apple goodness.

How do I make apple butter?

The basic method of making apple butter is to slowly cook apples in a pot over a long period of time at a low temperature. Finely chopped apples (peeled or unpeeled, it's up to you) are cooked with various spices and most importantly, sugar. Cooking the apples for 4 to 6 hours will slowly draw out the excess water and allow them to soften. During the slow cooking, the sugars that are naturally present in the apples caramelize into a deep, molasses-like flavor, and a dark color. This gives the apple butter its rich, sweet flavor and dark brown hue. After cooking, if you are looking for a smooth, silky texture, go in with a handheld immersion blender or pass your cooked down apples through a food mill or tamis.

Back to flavoring. There are a wide variety of flavors you can add to apple butter. Most commonly, you will find seasonings that mix well with apple flavors like cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, or other spices like cloves, ginger, or cardamom, depending on your preferences.Try your hand at our Baked Bourbon-Apple Butter that's infused with sensational notes of cinnamon, ginger, and bourbon. Like jam, it's perishable. Make sure you keep it in the fridge after you make it.

How do I use apple butter?

Apple butter is very versatile. You can use it in many different ways, similar to jams and preserves. Add it to toast, baked goods, or even experiment with it with our Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter recipe. Also, you can use apple butter to flavor marinades and glazes on grilled and roasted meat and vegetables such as duck and squash, which will add a caramelized sweet note to any dish.

No matter what the season is, apple butter will give you that warm feeling of autumn. While it is pretty easy to make, it is time consuming and does require about six pounds of apples. That being said, there are quite a few options on the market if you are looking to purchase.

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