Homemade Apple Butter

Most people would think I’m crazy. I returned home from work around 7:30pm last night and ended up spending nearly 4 hours in the kitchen. And I really enjoyed it! Ever since I received my shipment of fun cookbooks last week (thanks again Matt!), I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to make first. I love making jams and jellies, but somehow never got around to it this summer. While flipping through The Joy of Jam, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves I saw a chapter dedicated to fall’s most abundant fruit – the apple! I really enjoyed browsing through the cookbook. There were many helpful hints and tips for beginner canners and best of all – the recipes do not require commercial pectin! I’m not a big fan of store-bought pectin because it can be expensive and I think you can make better jam without it.

I already had most of the ingredients for apple butter on hand and I own canning utensils, so I was ready to roll.  Some 25-year-olds collect designer handbags and shoes. I prefer mason jars.

Before I embarked on my adventure in preserving, I prepared a quick dinner. I cooked a pot of lentils, baked up a garnet yam, and mixed the two together with mozzarella cheese and hot sauce. A little random, but filling and delicious!

sweet potato and lentils

And then the apple butter project began!

The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves[photo source]

I selected the low-sugar apple butter recipe which uses apple cider to replace much of the refined sugar. I also made a few alternations to the original recipe based on the ingredients/equipment that I had on hand. If you’re new to canning, you should probably follow the recipe instructions exactly, otherwise all sorts of problems could arise. Preserving and canning can be tricky. If your mixture doesn’t contain the correct amount of pectin, the jelly or jam could fail to gel. If your vegetables or fruits aren’t acidic enough, the jar contents could spoil too soon. And if you’d don’t properly process the mason jars, a seal won’t form (no seal = short shelf life). Luckily for me apples have a lot of natural pectin, so I wasn’t too worried about the apple butter coming together.

Megan’s version of Low Sugar Apple Butter


  • 2.5 lbs of apples (I used 2 Granny Smith, 2 Macoun, and 1 Gala)
  • 1.5 quarts (48 oz) apple cider
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • Tbs cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

I washed all of the jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water and prepared the apples by washing and slicing them (don’t peel the apples!).

Apple Butter Prep

Apples simmering

Canning tools

Boiling water bath

Homemade apple butter


  • Boil the cider in a large cooking pot for about 20 minutes, until it has reduced by 1/4.
  • Add the apples, cover, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove apple and cider mixture from heat and carefully puree it in a blender (the original recipe calls for pureeing the fruit in a food mill or sieve, but I didn’t have either of those).
  • Pour the apple mixture back in the pot, add brown sugar and spices, and allow to simmer over low heat for about an hour.
  • While your apple mixture is cooking, fill a very large stock pot 1/2 way with water, and bring to a boil. You should probably have a rack so that the mason jars won’t sit on the bottom of the pot. I DON’T have a rack, so I use an inverted metal cupcake pans. Ehhh…I improvise!
  • Place your canning lids in a bowl of VERY hot water so that the gummy underside gets soft and pliable.
  • Stir the apple butter occassionally – when it’s dark brown and glossy, it’s time to process!
  • Carefully pour the apple butter into 1/2 pint or pint mason jars, leaving about 1/4″ head space.
  • Wipe off any sticky residue and run a chopstick (or butter knife) along the inside of the jar to remove air bubbles.
  • Screw on the lids and rings (but not TOO tight!)
  • Carefully lower the filled jars into the stockpot (water should be boiling by now) and keep them submerged in the water for at least 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and using a jar grabber lift the jars straight up and out of the pot. Place the jars at least one inch apart from each other and allow to cool completely. You may hear a “popping” sound – that means that the metal lid just sealed. Yay!
  • Once your jars are cool, check the lid to make sure it is completely flat and sealed. If it pops up, you can still eat the apple butter, but just store it in the fridge.
  • Sealed jars of apple butter (and jam and jelly) can keep for about a year in the pantry.
  • Enjoy! Now it’s time to wash all of your sticky dishes :-)

Question: What’s your favorite type of jam or jelly? Have you ever made your own?


12 Responses

  1. I think raspberry jam is my favorite. I love it’s sweet and tartness
    I’ve never made my own jam because it seems soooo extensive but I’d love to roll up the sleeves and try it some time

  2. Yay! This looks so fun! I am such an amateur canner. I tried cherry jam this summer but it turned out like cherry sauce since we had a pectin fail…ahh well. You live and learn. This stuff looks amazing – I love getting inspired by cookbooks!

  3. I made some apple butter yesterday! I decided to not process it and just keep it in the fridge.

  4. Kudos on the kitchen dedication!

    My favorite jams would have to be my Great Aunt Ethel’s (what a great old lady name), Rhubarb Jam. When that’s not an option, I prefer cherry jam or a strawberry/raspberry blend.

  5. I’m a big cook (I spent six hours in my kitchen last Thursday, I was unwinding from mid-terms) but jams have somehow always intimidated me. I eat a killer rhubarb onion chutney this summer that I’m dying to make. It just seems so scary to take the frozen bags of rhubarb to something edible.

  6. Raspberry jam is my favorite. I’ve never made it myself but making my own jam is definitely on my cooking/baking bucket list.

  7. Aah I love that you made homemade apple butter!! Apple butter is TOTALLY one of my favorites!

  8. […] or food products, you should definitely check out the site. Anyway, yesterday Megan made the Low Sugar Apple Butter recipe from Linda Ziedrich’s tome, The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves. You may […]

  9. I think this is such a great idea! I’ve never tried apple butter or jam and i think i would really like it! these would be great gift ideas too!


  10. Wohoo! Great post. Apple butter is definitely my favorite. Not overly sweet and a perfect accompaniment to pretty much everything, especially this time of year!

  11. Collecting mason jars > collecting handbags. Work it, lady!

  12. raspberry jam is my fave! though I love apple butter quite a bit too. And pumpkin butter, mmm…

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