This is the classic recipe we go to every apple-picking season, rich with sweet apple flavor and warm spices. As the mixture slowly cooks down, the sugar caramelizes and the apple butter turns a deep, golden brown. Spread it on toast in the morning or serve with scones for an afternoon snack — it’s a little bite of fall.
Classic Apple Butter
4 lb. (2 kg.) sweet apples such as Fuji, Gala, Empire or Pink Lady
1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml.) sweet apple cider
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups (1 lb./500 g.) sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Have ready hot, sterilized jars and their lids.
Peel, quarter and core the apples. In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the apples, cider and lemon juice. Add 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft, about 30 minutes.
Working in batches if necessary, transfer the apple mixture to a food processor and puree just until smooth. Return to the saucepan and stir in the sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Place over medium-low heat and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides of the pan, until the butter is thick and mounds on a spoon, about 1 hour.
Ladle the hot butter into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch (6 mm.) of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.
Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Find more ways to put up the season’s bounty in our book Art of Preserving, by Rick Field, Lisa Atwood and Rebecca Courchesne.