“Omg I was craving apple butter the other day and stumbled on your recipe, it is so incredibly silky! I’m making another batch today.” ~Jan
I made this quick small batch apple butter with some beautiful apples I picked last weekend while visiting with my daughter in Madison. The orchard we went to (Appleberry Farm, in Cross Plains Wisconsin, if anyone lives nearby) grows over 20 different apple varieties, including heirlooms like Pink Pearl, Sheepnose, and Pitmason Pineapple! It’s such fun to see and taste all the subtle differences in these unusual apples, especially if you’re used to the limited supermarket selection.
the best apples for making apple butter?
Don’t know a Pippin from a Northern Spy? No problem, go by what you like.
- Luckily, when it comes to apple butter, it really doesn’t matter, you can use any apple you like. I used a random mixture for my butter, and every batch will be a little different depending on the variety you use.
- Any apple with a good strong flavor is a great choice.
- Try mixing varieties, there’s no need to be loyal to just one kind.
- Mix a tart and a sweet apple for a nice balance ~ how about Granny Smith with Honey Crisp?
Making apple butter doesn’t have to be an all day affair.
Traditional apple butter recipes usually involve long cooking times to allow the flavors to develop and the apples to caramelize. However, I can provide you with a quicker version that still yields a delicious apple butter in a relatively short time. Keep in mind that this quick version may have a slightly different texture and flavor compared to the traditional slow-cooked apple butter.
With this recipe it all comes together in an hour, and that includes peeling the apples! I used 2 pounds, or about 8 large apples, and made about a pint of butter. Not bad for an hour’s work. (You can leave the peel on the apples for an even quicker project.)
This particular apple butter has a fresh apple taste and is pale in color. That’s because I didn’t add a lot of extra liquid to the apples, so they cook down quickly. I used whole spices to infuse their flavor into the butter rather than adding ground spices directly to it, which would result in a darker butter. I peeled my apples, but leaving the peels on your apples will add a rosy color to your sauce!
If you choose to leave the peels on your apples, you will want to wash them well. The latest research shows that a 1% solution of baking soda/water does the best job of removing pesticides.
tips for making quick apple butter
- If you want more of the classic dark spiced apple butter, increase the cider to 1 cup, add 1 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp of molasses, and ground spices rather than whole. You will need to cook it longer to get to a thick spreadable consistency.
- The butter is done when you can drag your spoon across the bottom of the pan and leave a trail without any liquid filling it in. Another test: remove some with a spoon and if the butter remains mounded without spreading, it’s done.
- Apple butter freezes well: allow the freshly cooked apple butter to cool completely at room temperature before transferring it to the freezer. Use freezer-safe containers or glass jars with tight-fitting lids to store the apple butter. Leave some space at the top of the container to allow for expansion during freezing.
- You can absolutely use less than perfect apples for making apple butter. In fact, apple butter is an excellent way to use up apples that may be slightly bruised, overripe, or not visually perfect. Since the apples will be cooked down and blended, any imperfections won’t be noticeable in the final product. Simply cut out brown or bruised spots before using.
what else to do with fall apples
- Rhubarb Applesauce is a gorgeous variation on regular applesauce.
- Making apple butter is such a fun fall project! Try my Cranberry Apple Butter for another delicious no-sugar fruit preserve.
- Love the flavor of fresh apples? Try my French Apple Jam.
- Apple Walnut Bran Muffins are a healthy way to start off the day.
- Apple Skillet Cake is one of my favorite easy apple cakes.
Make this apple butter recipe your own
- If you like things a little sweeter, add some sugar, or brown sugar, to the pot with the apples and cider.
- Add a little maple syrup for sweetening and extra flavor.
- If you want a spicier butter, try using ground spices, start with 1/2 tsp of each cinnamon and allspice, with 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and cloves. Add more to taste.
- Leave the peel on for added flavor, color, and texture.
One Hour No Sugar Apple Butter
- Put the apples, cider, and lemon juice in a large heavy bottomed pot.
- Tie the whole spices up in a cheesecloth bundle and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the spice sack, and puree the apples in a high speed blender or food processor. Work in batches, if necessary.
- Return the puree to the rinsed out pot, and continue to cook for 10 to 15 more minutes, stirring often, until thick. I add the spice sack back in at this stage. Note: the butter will sputter quite a bit, so covering the pot with a splatter screen helps. The butter is done when you can drag your spoon across the bottom of the pan and leave a trail without any liquid filling it in.
- Remove the spice sack, and fill a jar or jars. Let cool before capping and refrigerating. Plan to consume within 2 weeks, or freeze for longer storage.