I am not fortunate enough to have my own apple trees, but should you be so lucky, I'm sure you have an overabundance of apples this time of year! Or maybe you know someone begging to get rid of their extra apples, but you're not sure what to do with them all. Well, I've got you covered with this incredibly easy, homemade apple butter recipe! If you've never had apple butter before, then you need to fix that. Apple butter is thicker than your average apple sauce, and in my opinion, much more tasty. You can use any type of apple you wish, but this is the perfect recipe to use up those apples in your backyard!
About a month ago, I visited my grandma out on her farm. Not only did I come home with a huge haul of fresh veggies from her massive garden, but I grabbed as many apples off her apple tree that I could without seeming greedy. Unfortunately, with the heat and the long drive home, not all of them remained crispy or appetizing for eating as is. Not wanting to waste them, I decided to try my hand at making apple butter. After perusing many, many recipes on how to make it, I realized how easy it was going to be and I got to work!
The beauty of apple butter is the apples can be soft, bruised and of any type. Crab apples work great too, or really, you could use any apple variety of your choosing. The apples from my grandma's farm are sweet and delicious so I was confident I wouldn't need much sugar for the butter. I highly recommend when making this recipe, that you follow the less is more rule. Taste your butter as it's simmering and sweeten accordingly. Some recipes I came across utilize an obscene amount of sugar! But then again, some apples are going to be more tart than others. I prefer my apple butter to be more on the savoury side, but to each their own!
Easy, Homemade Cinnamon Apple Butter
4 pounds of apples (seeded, cored and quartered)
2 cups of water
1/3 cup of brown sugar*
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1. Seed, core and quarter your apples, but leave the skins on
2. Add apples to a large pot and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. (The water will not cover your apples entirely, that's ok!)
3. Once a boil is reached, turn heat down to low. Simmer apples for 15 minutes until they are soft and mushy. You should be able to easily mash the apples with a fork.
4. If you have a high speed blender (I used my vitamix) then add the contents of your pot to it. You could also use an immersion blender here. Blend the apples on high until smooth. With a powerful enough blender, you won't need to strain out the peels this way. If you don't have a high speed blender, then you will need to strain the apples through a fine strainer.
5. Place the pureed apples back into the large pot. Add the remaining ingredients and bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-60 minutes to allow the apple butter to thicken. If you want an extra kick of cinnamon, you can throw in a cinnamon stick or two as the pot is simmering. Different types of apples contain different amounts of pectin, so one type may yield a thicker butter than another.
6. Remove cinnamon stick (if used) and divide apple butter among mason jars. My batch yielded about 6 cups of apple butter. I placed the lids of the mason jars on while the apple butter was still hot which creates a pretty solid seal. Your apple butter will last in the fridge for at least 2-3 weeks. If you prefer, and have the necessary equipment, you could properly jar the apple butter for a longer shelf life.
*As your butter is simmering, you can taste it for sweetness and add brown sugar as you feel it's needed.
Confession: I enjoy my apple butter straight out of the jar, much like you would apple sauce, but oh my goodness, it is so much more delicious! Spread on toast is another lovely way to consume it, or even mixed in oatmeal or Greek yogurt. There's no wrong way to enjoy it!