Apple butter is a thick, smooth fruit puree made by slowly cooking fresh apples with sugar. It gets is name from the fact that the finished product is smooth as butter, not because there is any butter in it. There are many types of fruit butter out there, but apple butter is by far my favorite. Apples take very well to being turned into fruit butter and leave you with an amber-colored preserve that is bursting with sweet apple flavor.
My Homemade Apple Cider Butter is actually inspired by Smuckers Cider Apple Butter, which is a delicious product that the company only makes in the fall when apples are fresh from the orchard. It was actually the very product that launched the family-owned company back in 1897. Mine is made with lots of apples, apple cider and a mixture of brown and white sugar. The apples are cooked until they are tender, then pureed and cooked again with sugar until the butter-like finished consistency is achieved. Since you are cooking these apples down, the texture of the apples that you choose to work with doesn’t matter as much as it does when you are choosing apples for baking pie. You can use Granny Smith if you like tart apples or Fuji, which I tend to use.
I find that a blend of brown sugar and white sugar gives the preserve a real depth of flavor and is slightly reminiscent of apple pie – only more intense, because the mixture has been reduced by so much. I have used both plain apple cider and spiced apple cider in batches of apple butter with good results. Choose a good quality, all natural apple cider (or even apple juice) that you like the flavor of and you’ll be very happy with the results.
I use my homemade apple cider butter to top muffins, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and anything else I can think of pairing it with. I’ve warmed it up and put it on ice cream, and I’ve even turned it into an Apple Butter Pie. The rich apple flavor is sweet and addictive. This recipe doesn’t make a huge batch, so I simply store mine in an airtight container in the refrigerator as I use it (which doesn’t take long). If you are into canning, you could certainly can your cider butter after it has finished cooking and you can make a double batch if you want to have a lot of it on hand, or to give as gifts. If you don’t plan on canning, know that when stored in the fridge, a batch will keep well for at least two weeks.
Homemade Apple Cider Butter
6 large apples (I use fuji), peeled and cut into large pieces
4 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
Combine apples and apple cider in a stockpot or a dutch oven. Cider should almost cover the apples. Bring to a boil and cook until apples are very tender. Use an immersion blender (or work in small batches in a blender/food processor) to puree the apples until mixture is very smooth.
Add sugar to the apple puree in the stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to medium and cook until mixture has thickened and reduced by 40-50%.
The apple butter will bubble thickly and splatter as it reduces, so I recommend keeping a splatter screen on top of your pot to minimize the cleanup. The butter should be thicker than most jams, with an almost honey-like quality to it when it is finished.
Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
Makes about 3 cups.
Recipe can be doubled or tripled or larger batches.