Apple Butter - Are there different recipes?

When I was a kid I loved apple butter, I still do. I don’t think we had it a lot so it was more of a special treat, but I have it even less since I reached adulthood. I grew up in Ohio until seven years of age and then we moved to Florida. In all my encounters with apple butter it is always the same, a thick, creamy spread with a smooth consistency. I love it but I don’t buy it much because the grocery stores only carry these huge bottles and I get tired of it before I finish it all and I don’t want to get tired of it.

Recently, a co-worker visited Michigan and asked me if I’d like a special jam or jelly from a country store she visits there. I asked for apple butter. She returned and gave me a jar that when swirled you can see the contents move, in my experience apple butter does not move. It also contained large pulpy bits of apple like apple sauce, not the apple butter I know and love. When I opened it the contents looked even more like apple sauce. It also tasted like applesauce, but very cinnamonny. I put it on my english muffin and it tasted like applesauce on an English Muffin.

So my question is, can apple butter have different recipes/consistencies and still be apple butter? Is apple butter one of those things that is made differently in different regions - if so why would my Ohio apple butter be so much different than the Michigan stuff - it’s essentially the same region, isn’t it? Or is this what “homemade” apple butter looks like? Or did this country store just mislabel their apple sauce as apple butter?
This may not be much of a subject for lenghty discussion but I am a bit peeved that I didn’t get my apple butter fix and I want to know what went wrong.
If we need more to discuss you can tell me what kind of things I could make with my “applesauce butter” or with real apple butter should I give in and buy one of those humongous jars at the store.
Also it’s just fun to say apple butter.
apple butter

They can call it “apple butter” in the same way the local sandwich shop can sell a roast beef and cheddar melt and call it a “Philly cheese steak.”

I hate to break it to you, son, but it seems everyone who makes apple butter makes it differently and the only way you’ll find out who makes good apple butter is to try lots of different kinds.

My apple butter moves when you shake the jar, but it’s a much darker color than applesauce-- you might try dumping your “applesauce butter” in a crock pot and cooking it down for a few more hours.

Or, if you want to make apple butter yourself, in small quantities, you could get one of those “Li’l Dipper” crock pots that only holds a cup or two, and use this:

1-2 apples-- NOT Delicious variety, those are a little mealy, or Granny Smith cause they’re very tart. Try Jonathan or Gaia apples. Each apple will make about 1/2 cup of apple butter, more or less.

Peel the apples, core them, and cut them into sections. Put them on the stove in a pan on medium heat, with enough apple juice to cover the bottom of the pan, and cook them until they are soft all the way through. Remove from heat and mash them up with a fork or potato masher. (Now you’ve made applesauce.)

If you have a hand blender (the kind you stick in a glass and make smoothies with; they’re $10 at the store here) use it to make the applesauce all smooth, and if not, put it in the blender and run it for a bit. Then pour it in the crock pot and add spices: cinnamon, maybe nutmeg or ginger if you like. (Guesstimating from the amount I use for a full 10-pound batch, I’d say 1/4 tsp cinnamon and a sprinkle of the other two.) Cook it on high for an hour or two and stir it every so often. When it’s noticeably thicker, and sort of a caramel brown/tan color, it’s done.

Store in the fridge. The one-or-two-apple version should make about a cup. If you feel motivated, you can buy 1/2 cup canning jars and can half of it for later on, and it’ll keep on the shelf for up to six months, until you finish the first half.

Warm apple butter is MARVELOUS on ice cream, by the way.

My grandmother makes “apple butter” using zuchini, saccharin, and nutmeg. She labels this the same as her apple butter that has apples in it. It looks like apple butter.

Here are two of my favorite recipes…


4 lbs apples, cored and chopped
2 c apple cider vinegar
10 t ground cinnamon
5 t ground cloves
2½ t ground allspice
4 t grated lemon zest

Place apples and cider vinegar or water into a large pot. Cook over medium low heat until soft. Put the fruit through a strainer or ricer. This helps remove the peel and makes it smoother.

Measure the apple pulp by cup into a large mixing bowl if you need to. For each one-cup of apple pulp mix in 2 t ground cinnamon, 1 t ground cloves, ½ t ground allspice, and the zest of one lemon; mix well. Be careful with this step. Be sure to taste to make sure the spices are not too strong for you.

Stirring often, cook the mixture over a medium or medium-low temperature until it’s done. It is done when you take a small amount on a spoon or plate and don’t get a ring of liquid around the apple butter.

Pour apple butter into hot sterilized jars. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Or Freeze.

7 c sugar, optional
11 c tart apples, mushed (pare, cook, run through ricer)
1 lb red-hots cinnamon candy
½ c vinegar

First off, I don’t add any sugar. I find that the apples and red-hots make this sweet enough.

Cook the apples down until the pieces are easily broken with a wooden spoon. Then mush them through a ricer. If you don’t have a ricer, peel the apples before cooking and then process in food processor or blender.

Or, easier still, use 11 c of country applesauce you buy in the store and cook it down until it has the consistency of marmalade.

Mix in red-hots and boil for 20 minutes. If it’s not sweet enough for you, add sugar or splenda to taste. You can then process in canning jars or freeze.

Mmm, apple butter was a staple in our house. My parents are from Penna and grew up with it. Apple butter on top of cottage cheese was most common. Apple butter and peanut butter sandwiches when the grape jelly was empty. Apple butter and butter sandwiches just because. It seems like it was more readily available in New York State where I grew up than here in New England.

It is fun to say!

Apple butter lasts almost forever (it’s probably the sugar). My family makes a big batch every couple of years but we tend to only eat it at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve never seen it go bad. Get a jar that tastes right, eat it when you feel like, and stick it in the fridge.

I can feel quite certain that what you got was “undercooked apple butter.” (or, as you noted, possibly mislabeled). Apple butter is just apple sauce that you cook and cook and cook (stirring occaisionally) until most of the liquid is gone. That what you should do to fix your apple goop. You might add some cinnanmon and/or cloves and/or sugar if it floats your boat. But, when you take some on a spoon, keep cooking/stirring till there’s just a rim of liquid around the solids.

It is timeconsuming but undeniably simple.