Revisiting the Apple Butter question

I want to make this a separate post on apple butter for two reasons. First, a lot of people visit this site because it pops up on a search engine. We’ve gotten a lot of searches for the term “apple butter” and we want to make sure that folks FIND a recipe. Second, in our initial post, we speculated that apple butter isn’t quite worth the work. We’ve gotten some great comments on that post (DO take the time to read them; they’re GREAT ideas and memories of making apple butter) from readers that I’d like to bring to your attention. And we are leaning towards changing our ideas about apple butter…

This is Barb’s Apple Butter recipe:

Wash applesapples-everywhere.jpg
Quarter apples and cut out nasty spots

  • 18 c. apples
  • 1 c. cider vinegar
  • 5 c. apple juice into large canning kettle

Boil apples until mushy. Send mush through the mill. Return the resulting sauce to large pan.

  • 4 c. sugar,
  • 3 t. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t. cloves
  • 1 1/2 t. allspice

Cook this sauce for hours and hours and hours….until it’s VERY thick. Stir often and be very careful not to let it get too actively bubbly or it will spit EXTREMELY hot apple butter onto innocent bystanders. This step takes HOURS!applebutter.jpgthe-setup.jpg
Sterilize lids and rings. Ladle hot apple butter into clean pint or half-pint jars. Water bath apple butter for 12 minutes.

This apple butter was delicious on toast this morning. I’m not positive that we did it perfectly or exactly right, but all the jars sealed, it tastes fabulous, and we’re happy with it! It’s definitely I’ll try again, especially with free apples.

I mentioned in the last post that it’s possible that the TYPE of pan you cook the apple butter in might be important. (Here’s what I wrote: An odd thing happened with our apple butter. We cooked down one of the pots of apple butter in a less-than-well-cured cast iron dutch oven. Somehow the vinegar and sugars and apple juices all reacted with the cast iron. The apple butter LOOKS fine and tastes great, but it gave us all blue teeth and blue lips! We’re trying to figure out what exactly happened there. The closest we’ve come so far is a discovery by Laura’s husband of a “recipe” for making blue ink using iron acetate, vinegar and tea. That might be a Clue. Any chemists out there?)


16 thoughts on “Revisiting the Apple Butter question

  1. Pingback: Apple Butter « My Sister’s Kitchen

  2. Blue is the color indicator of starch when iodine is added. Is there the posibility the there could be iodine (or iodized salt) in the mixture somewhere? There is starch in the apples, but most would likely be turned into sugars already. If you had really unripe apples, they would have more starch than ripe ones.

    The iron acetate would have actually been formed if the vinegar was allowed to sit and react with the iron of the dutch oven. You could do the same thing if you let some steel wool sit in vinegar. From what I could find though, the iron acetate is not the actual dye, but is instead used in dyes as the “binder” to hold whatever color dye is used (the tannin from tea for example).

    I would spread some of your butter on a white sheet of paper and see if it discolors to blue or purple as it dries – that way you would know that it is inherent in the butter and not some reaction that is happening on your lips or in your mouth. I would also put some of the butter on a slice of potato to see if it turns purple or blue. The high starch of the potato would indicate iodine in the butter if it turns (you remember having blue milk backpacking? when you add iodine treated water to powdered milk and cereal?)

    Cooking chemistry – now it’s getting interesting!

  3. Hi folks, I have been searching around for applesauce recipes as I have inherited the mantle of Family Applesauce Provider from my Mom, and I wanted to update my info as she developed her ways, delicious as the results were, in 1950 and I know ideas have evolved on safety since then. I was amazed to find that ALL the recipes I found for ‘applesauce’ require peeling the apples. Way too much time here for me, even with a peeling gadget. The only place where you do what my Mom did, which was to wash, cut out blemishes, quarter, cook to soft, put through a mill, then reheat, is in APPLE BUTTER recipes. However our ‘applesauce’ was canned as soon as it reheated to boiling after the milling and WITHOUT ANY ADDED INGREDIENTS AT ALL! So I guess it was applesauce-with-skin-and-core-pectin and whatever seed bits may have made it through. (The odd flower stamen showed up sometimes too!) I really preferred its thick rich taste and ocher colour to the pallid watery yellow commercial sauces, and even to my stovetop sauce made from cored and peeled apples before I had the family mill. So does anyone know if there’s a safety question about apple butter without added sugar? Applesauce made with the whole apple? Or any other comments?

  4. I know that alot of people might not find it worth the time to make your own apple butter, I think the reason we still do it, is because it is a family tradition that we have passed down from generation to generation. My husband’s family have grown apart over the years and the only time they all get together is for our once a year apple butter making. So although some people probably think you can buy it in the store cheaper, they are probably right. But see my husbands eyes when him and his newphews are working together as his other brothers (who are disabled and not able to help any more) and his grandson learning from him, is worth all the work. thanks

  5. Cindy, we are ALL about doing things for the sake of family memories! If apple butter is part of the family tradition, then it’s worth it! I personally don’t make it anymore, because it’s not part of my family tradition, and economics alone don’t make it worth my time and effort. But there are other fiddly recipes that I will spend hours on each year, because they are important to our family.

    Love is a good reason to make apple butter!


  6. Hello I was doing a search online for a website of how to cook with ingredients you have on hand and came across this one. In regards to apple butter ( which I love). Years ago we purchased a house that had 3 1/4 acres with tons of apple trees on them. A lot of work needed to be done on the yard as it was neglected but I wanted to fix some apple butter , but didn’t have the time to stand at the stove all day watching it to keep it from burning.

    So I came up with trying the microwave and it worked perfectly. I canned lots of apple butter that year and the years afterward. I would recommend you try it . And the recipe that is posted on here is similar to mine it has the apple cider vinegar in it which is great.

    Thanks, have a great day.

  7. Shirley,
    First of all, welcome to our site! It sounds like you cook the way we like to. Be sure and ask if there are particular things you have and want ideas for what to do with them.

    And second, would you please share with us specifically what you do to microwave the apple butter? We’d love to hear more on that method, since anything that cuts down on the babysitting-the-stove time is a good thing!


  8. I always use my crockpot to make pear butter. Just like apple butter. I even cook the pears down in the crockpot–just add a bit of water to get the juices going. It is so easy. I set them to cook down at night (on low, lid on) and then run it through my food mill, cook the butter during the day, lid on–high to start and then switch to lid off on low once it gets cooking. It will be done in a few hours. I do the butter part during the day so I can stir it from time to time. I have never had a batch scorch. Then get it all put in jars and processed–then start over again. I usually have two crocks going at once. It fits with my ‘style’ of a too busy life and I am so lazy. : )

  9. I always make my apple butter in the oven. So rather than standing at the stove and stirring, you just pour the sauce into an enameled roasting pan and roast in a 275 degree oven for a few hours until you have the consistency/color you desire. Stir every 30 minutes or so. This is the way my mother and her mother have always made apple butter. Our recipe is just the apples, cinnamon and sugar…. so has more of an apple pie taste that I’ve come to love on my toast.

  10. I recently started making apple butter and have decided that it is absolutely essential for baking pork chops!
    I make my apply butter in the slow cooker. On low for 6 to8 hours – then I use a sumersible blender and add my spices – cook on high uncovered until desired consistency. If you have a lot of time, you don’t even need to stir it that often. The slow cooker does it all! Then while I fill my jars the slow cooker keeps everything hot.
    I use apples off my own apple tree and keep the peelings on – core and cut out bad spots. It works just great!

  11. First of all thank you for sharing your recipe without requiring a cell phone number. As I learn more about canning I will submit my successful recipes. It worked – cans popped and no blue lips.

    • Barbara, I’m glad the apple butter worked you. YAY! I can’t imagine requiring your cell phone number in exchange for a recipe. We don’t do that here and don’t PLAN to. Neither one of us likes talking on the phone enough for that! 😉

  12. Pingback: How to Make and Can Chow Chow | An NC Mom Blog | Real Life

  13. Just visited your site because I’ve been looking for a recipe for apple butter that included vinegar. I’ve lost mine and our “family tradition” if you will, includes my Great granddaughter Taylor who loves apple butter and wants to make it again this year. it’s a good year where I live. Lots of apples.

  14. i just put a batch of apple puree into my cast iron pot and realized it made my apples turn grey… i did some research online and found that the chemical reaction between the iron and the acid in the apples makes that happen, so i transferred the puree to some stainless steel pots instead and they are cooking now, still grey but they taste ok… what i’m wondering is 1) are my apples going to make people sick? Should I just throw out this batch and start over? and 2) are stainless steel going to have the same reaction? I don’t think I can afford a copper pot right now and I don’t have a crock pot.

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