Apple Butter – and how to can it!

Apples and Fall go together… like rain galoshes and buckets of rain, here in the Pacific Northwest! If you’ve never tried Apple Butter before, you’re missing out! Smearing a spoonful of it on a piece of toast is cinnamon-apple goodness, folks!Apple Butter- and how to can it! / The Grateful Girl Cooks!
I’ve read that a lot of people use apple butter (think “jam”) as an accompaniment to roasted pork or other meat dishes, but I prefer it in it’s purest form… spread on a great piece of toast.  Apple Butter tastes like FALL, to me, with apples, sugar, cinnamon and cloves blended into this wonderful spread!

This recipe yields 8 half-pint (8 oz.) or 4 pint sized (12 oz.) jars of Apple Butter.  I canned 4 pint jars and gave a couple of the jars away to friends to enjoy, but that’s another story. If not canning for long term storage, make sure jars are refrigerated and apple butter used within a couple weeks.

Here’s how you make traditional Apple Butter (and can it):

In a mixing bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves; set aside. (If you are using really sweet apples, decrease sugar amount to 5 cups).

Sugar and spices in metal mixing bowl

Place peeled, cored and quartered apples in a large stainless steel saucepan, along with water.

Apples and water in red saucepan

Bring this mixture to a full boil on medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and continue to gently boil the apples and water for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Apples should be softened.

Chopped apple chunks softening in red saucepan

Using an immersion blender (or a canister blender or food processor), puree the hot apple mixture until you have a consistent, smooth texture, but do not liquefy.

Immersion blender in pan of apples to blend

Measure out apple puree (see recipe below) and pour it into a large, clean stainless steel saucepan. Add the sugar/cinnamon/clove mixture; stir to combine. Bring the puree to a boil (medium-high), and stir frequently while it cooks. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat again to low and boil gently until the puree has thickened and can hold it’s shape on a spoon.

Adding sugar and spices to apple puree in pan

Red saucepan of apple butter cooking

Here’s an easy way to test and see if it is done. Take a small spoonful and put it onto a CHILLED plate. If the liquid does NOT separate (making a watery rim around the edge), and the puree maintains a spreadable shape, then the apple butter is ready.

Ladle with hot apple butter dripping

If you are NOT canning the apple butter, ladle the hot butter into clean mason jars, wipe lids clean, secure lids on jars, and refrigerate (and/or give away). Apple Butter that is not canned must be kept refrigerated, and has a limited storage time.

If you ARE canning for long term storage, prepare jars, canner, and jar lids while making the apple butter, according to canner manufacturer and USDA canning guidelines.

Ladle the hot apple butter into hot canning jars. Leave 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by inserting plastic knife or plastic canning tool into butter several times. Adjust the head space, if necessary, to maintain 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims of the jars clean, then put flat lid on, followed by screw lid. Tighten it just to fingertip tight.

Sealed jars of jam going into canner

Process apple butter on rack in prepared canner, and process according to directions (see recipe below).

Jam jars sitting in water in canner

When done, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then carefully remove jars from canner; let jars cool on kitchen towel on counter (not directly on counter-don’t want them to crack due to temperature extremes). Once you have made sure jars have sealed (with the famous “pinging sound”), let them cool for 24 hours, then store.  Enjoy some of this tasty spread on a good piece of toast!

Toast with apple butter spread on it

Have a great day. Be kind… encourage those who are experiencing pain or sorrow, and be a force for GOOD in this hurting world!

Author's signatureRecipe Source: Ball Complete Book Of Home Preserving, page 53, Published by Robert Rose, Inc., 2006.

Apple Butter - and how to can it!
Prep Time
1 hr 5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
1 hr 15 mins

This smooth creamy apple butter is perfect on toast, as a topping for pound cake, or as an accompaniment for roast pork.

Category: Jam
Servings: 4 pint jars
Calories Per Serving: 45 kcal
Author: JB at The Grateful Girl Cooks!
  • 6 lbs. apples (peeled, cored, and quartered)
  • 3 cups water
  • 6 cups sugar (if using sweet apples, decrease to 5 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Combine the apples and water in a large saucepan. Bring this to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it reaches boiling, reduce the heat to low and boil mixture gently, for about 30 minutes, until the apples soften. Stir mixture occasionally.
  2. Puree the apple mixture using an immersion blender OR transfer the apple mixture to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, but do not liquefy.
  3. Measure out 12 cups of apple puree into a clean large saucepan. Add sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Stir this mixture up until all the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil (again over medium-high heat). Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to low and continue to cook. Stir this very frequently to prevent scorching. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens and can hold its shape on a spoon. To test to see if it is ready, spoon a spoonful of the apple mixture onto a CHILLED plate. If the liquid does not separate and form a rim around the edge of the apple butter, and the mixture can hold a spreadable shape, the apple butter is ready to place into canning jars.
  4. While the apple butter is cooking, prepare your canner, jars, and lids, according to manufacturer and USDA canning guidelines.
  5. Once apple butter is done, ladle the hot apple butter into your hot canning jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Make sure to remove air bubbles, then re-adjust the headspace, if needed. Wipe rim well, to ensure it is clean. Place the flat lid on jar, then screw on the band until it is fingertip tight.
  6. Place jars onto rack in prepared canner. Make sure they are completely covered with water (water should be at least an inch over the top of jars). Place lid on canner. Bring water to a full rolling boil, then process jars for 10 minutes. Take off the canner lid; let jars sit in water for 5 more minutes, then remove jars to a dish towel on kitchen counter (do not place hot jars directly on kitchen counter as they could crack due to temperature variations). Let jars sit on counter undisturbed for 24 hours. After testing each jar to make sure they have sealed properly, the jars are safe to store in pantry.
Nutrition Facts
Apple Butter - and how to can it!
Amount Per Serving (1 Tablespoon)
Calories 45
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.





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