Turning applesauce into rich, spreadable apple butter is easy when you make it in your oven. With this method, there's no need to spend time stirring and standing over the stove. And you get to control how much (if any) sugar goes into the recipe.
To make apple butter you need applesauce. You can start with store-bought, but you'll get a much tastier final product if you start with your own homemade sauce. You can use slow cooker applesauce or stove-top applesauce.
- 2 quarts (1.8 liters) applesauce
- 1 cup (227 g) brown sugar OR 1/3 cup honey (optional)
- 1/3 cup (78 ml) apple cider vinegar OR lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional - leave out if applesauce was already spiced)
- 1 small pinch ground cloves (optional - leave out if applesauce was already spiced)
- Preheat the oven to 325F (163 C). Combine all of the ingredients in a large baking dish. Bake for approximately 3 hours.
- Stir occasionally so that the applesauce near the edges of the baking dish doesn't cook faster than the sauce in the center. If you just want to stir once per hour, that's fine. If you can stir more often you will eliminate some of the cooking time in the oven. This is because the stirring will help release moisture from the applesauce so that it condenses into apple butter faster.
Apple butter will keep in the refrigerator for at least a month, or it is easy to can for longer shelf life.
To can apple butter:
- Fill clean pint or half-pint jars (it is not necessary to sterilize the jars for this recipe) leaving 1/2-inch of head space between the top of the food and the rims of the jars. Use a butter knife or a small spoon to release any air bubbles.
- Wipe off the rims of the jars with a moistened paper or clean cloth towel (any food stuck to the rims could prevent a good seal). Fasten canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Adjust for your altitude if necessary.
Because reducing applesauce to apple butter concentrates the flavor of the fruit, it can be fun to make single varietal apple sauces and butters. For instance, you could make Macintosh butter, Honeycrisp butter, etc. You will definitely taste the difference!