Growing up around Fayetteville, I can remember several places where we had apple trees growing in our yards. Those trees didn’t produce the big pretty apples that you see in the grocery stores today, but they tasted much better than anything I can seem to find now.

The yellow Golden Delicious has always been my favorite. I can still remember picking one up off the ground and biting into it, juice dripping down my chin. That golden sweet goodness often came with a price though. You might find a worm that also thought it was a good apple. Worm holes and bruised spots were just things you ate around back then.

The very smell and taste of apple butter take me back to those days of my youth. Mama made apple pies for us sometimes. Daddy would often make apple hand pies when he was in the mood for cooking. Most of those old bruised and spotted apples were collected for drying, or making apple jelly and apple butter.

Apple butter is much easier to make than you might think. For this recipe, we’ll start by picking out some apples from the North Carolina State Farmers Market. We’ll basically make applesauce first. Then we’ll wait until day two to cook it down into apple butter. Spreading the process out over two days makes it easier to manage for us old folks. We’ve got the recipe for making it here, plus you can visit Taste of Southern for the full step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe for making and canning some delicious apple butter of your own. It makes a great gift too.

So, if you’re ready, let’s bring back some memories in the kitchen, and make up a batch of apple butter for all of the family to enjoy. Let’s get cooking!

What you’ll need to make the dish:

  • 5 lbs. apples
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups white granulated sugar, adjust as needed according to to instructions
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, zest plus juice

Apple Butter Recipe (PDF).


Apple-Butter_apples-variety
You’ll find a large variety of apples at the North Carolina State Farmers Market, or at many roadside produce stands around the area. North Carolina is blessed to have such a great selection of apples.

Some folks say you should use a variety of apples when making an apple butter recipe. I purchased a box of Jonagold “seconds” when I visited the market. They had a few spots, which were cut away, but they make great apple butter and shouldn’t be overlooked when shopping. Don’t be afraid to ask one of the vendors if they have any. They’re not often left out on display.

I’ve won a couple of ribbons with this recipe. Just a few weeks back, I entered a jar from the last batch I made into the Lee Regional Fair. It won a blue ribbon, so I’m happy to classify this as “award winning apple butter.”


Apple-Butter_08_cover-and-cook
You’ll need to slice up the apples, removing any really bad spots. Toss the slices into a sauce pot, add some water and a little vinegar and cook the apples down.

Apple-Butter_09_cook-down
This part will not take very long. Just cook the apples until they are good and soft. Really firm apples will need a little longer to cook, and you’ll want to keep stirring them as they cook down.

Apple-Butter_13_apples-pressed
Once cooked, run the apples through a food mill, or something similar, to remove the skins and seeds. The resulting pulp is basically applesauce at this point. If you don’t have a sieve or food mill, you can still make apple butter. You’ll find an alternate method that might even be a bit easier for you, over on Taste of Southern.

After the mixture had cooled, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the refrigerator overnight.


Apple-Butter_33_final-cookdown
After adding the spices to the applesauce mixture, it will need to slowly cook down to remove most of the water. This step could take 5-7 hours to complete, and you’ll need to keep stirring it ever so often. The results will be worth the effort, so stay with it. Plus, your house will smell AWESOME while this cooks.


Apple-Butter_39_ladle-into-jars
Once it’s cooked down to your liking, ladle the apple butter into some jars and process it for storage. It could also be frozen if desired, or just placed in the refrigerator for use over the next couple of months.


Apple-Butter_49_serve
Canning is a great way to preserve foods without using all of the chemical additives you’ll find in the store bought varieties. You’ll appreciate the taste of homemade spread, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you made it yourself. I’ll give you the step-by-step for the entire process when you click here. I do hope you’ll try it, and I look forward to hearing your comments in the section below. Enjoy!


Steve Gordon is a writer, recipe tester, and lover of all things Southern. You can read more of his writing and step-by-step recipes at tasteofsouthern.com. Click here to find more of his recipes.


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Erin Reitz is the digital content specialist at Our State.

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