Homemade Apple Butter

Apple Butter 0640335

Apple butter has been a family favorite and a cherished gift for years. Pioneer Dad’s family and neighbors complain loudly if they fail to receive a jar of this dark and cinnamon flavored delicacy during the holidays.

We are fortunate to have a tree that produces over a hundred pounds of apples each year. That’s enough for apple butter, applesauce and of course hard apple cider. We are among the most fortunate of gardeners.

Pioneer Dad’s apple tree is a Beverly Hills, with fruit that ripens from late June until the end of summer so canning begins early in our kitchen. Unfortunately, Beverly Hills apples are not available commercially. But, Granny Smith, Fuji or Macintosh will make good alternatives for apple butter.

Total Time: 1 hr.
Prep: 10 min.
Cook: 20-25 min.
Processing time: 10-15 min.
Yield: about 5 pints
Level: Easy


16 medium apples (about 4 lbs.); Granny Smith, Fuji or Macintosh
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
5 pint sized canning jars


1. Prepare the pulp by washing the apples, remove the stems and blossom ends. It is not necessary to peal or core the apples. Cut each apple into six or eight pieces. Add 2 cups of water to a large pot cover and simmer until apples are soft, about 20 to 25 minutes. Press the apple pulp through a sieve or food mill to remove peal, seeds and cores. Measure out 2 quarts of the finished apple pulp.

2. Prepare the butter by combining the apple pulp, sugar, and spices in a large pot. Cook slowly until thick enough to stick to a wooden spoon. Stir frequently to prevent the butter from sticking to the pot. If the butter gets too thick, add a small amount of cider or water to reach the desired thickness.

3. Ladle the hot butter into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean towel and adjust the lids (tighten).

4. Process the jars, in boiling water, inside a large pot or water bath canner for 10 minutes for pints, 15 minutes for quarts at altitudes below 6,000 feet. For higher altitudes, increase process time an additional five minutes.

5. After processing, lift the jars out of the pot or canner and set on a dry towel on the counter. Allow the jars to rest over night and listen for the lids to pop as they seal. Any jars that do not pop (or seal) should be refrigerated and eaten within the next several weeks. Jars that seal will keep for up to two years when stored in a cool dark place. Sunlight tends to darken the apple butter over time.

Apple butter is a tasty addition to: Pancakes, Waffles, Yogurt, Oatmeal, Grilled cheese, PB&J, Biscuits, Cornbread, Pork chops and vanilla ice cream.


I prefer to core the apples before cooking. This saves time when using a food mill.

Preheat and sterilize the canning jars and lids while cooking the apples to save time processing.

If this is your first time canning, I suggest buying a basic canning kit with jar lifter, funnel and headspace gauge. They are inexpensive usually under $20.00 and will save valuable time over the stove. It is not necessary to buy a water bath canner. A large stockpot works nicely if deep enough to cover the tops of the jars with several inches of water.

Several words of caution about home canning: always use jars manufactured specifically for canning. The glass is formulated for high temperatures and semi rapid cooling. Lids with a rubber gasket should always be purchased new. The rings can be used from year to year as long as they are free from rust or other contaminates. Never set hot jars on a cold surface. Always use a dishtowel or hand towel between the jar and counter top.

Happy canning.


  1. […] A water bath canner is a handy tool for most food preservation at home. The water bath process is particularly suited for high-acid foods such as: fruits, jams, jellies, salsas, tomatoes, pickles, relishes, chutneys, sauces, vinegars and Pioneer Dad’s favorite: apple butter. […]

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