The question is, where has apple butter been my entire life? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had apple butter before, but never the homemade kind. Total game-changer. And to be clear, the homemade version on freshly baked biscuits is almost too incredible to speak about.
But what is apple butter exactly? Not sure about you, but over the years I thought is was something completely different than it actually was. If you’ve never had apple butter before, the name can be somewhat confusing. Apple butter is not butter. In fact, there is no butter in it at all. Truth-be-told, this well-known sweet spread is really a concentrated, smoother version of apple sauce, but way better.
Historically speaking, this famous spread was originally invented in Limburg, (present day Belgium) and the Netherlands during the Middle Ages. Apple butter was later brought over to colonial America by the Germans who settled in Pennsylvania, and who were known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.
One major difference between apple butter and apple sauce is you cook it longer. The additional cooking time is what accounts for its distinct caramel color and rich apple flavor. Any variety of apples you happen to have on hand can work in this recipe. But generally speaking, softer varieties of apples, such as, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Macintosh, or Jonagold work better since they cook down faster. Truthfully, it’s really all about your taste preferences. In my recipe I use a mix of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp which created the perfect sweet-tart balance.
This well-known fruit spread is perfect on your morning toast, but also a great option for serving alongside homemade rolls or biscuits at Thanksgiving. And if you plan for it, make some extra because it’s great to bake with as ell. Add some to my apple slab pie and take this simple dessert to a whole new playing field that’s perfect for any holiday meal.
- 6 medium-large apples (4 Honeycrisp & 2 Granny Smith), cored, seeded and roughly chopped
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup regular sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch ground cloves
- pinch sea salt
- Step 1 In a large saucepan add the apples, water, brown sugar, regular sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cloves and salt and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook apples for about 20-25 minutes or until apples begin to soften and fall apart.
- Step 2 Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, place the apple mixture into a food processor with a blade attachment and pulse on/off till smooth.
- Step 3 Return the puree to the saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Gently simmer, stirring regularly to avoid burning, until the apple butter is nice caramel color and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1 hour.
- Step 4 Transfer to a glass jar or airtight container and keep refrigerated.
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