Autumn in the Midwest leading to the holidays means it’s time for hot drinks. Apple Butter is a great fall ingredient to Hot Toddies, Hot Buttered Rums and hot teas…as well as toasted muffins, waffles and pancakes.

From start to finish it will take about 48 hours in your oven, but the concentrated and caramelized flavor of the apples and spices is well worth the time. The ingredients are simple. The process is the magic. Investing the time and attention to bring something special out of these simple ingredients is well worth it. It will also make your home smell like spiced apple pie for a few days. Not bad dividends.

10 pounds of assorted Apples
1 quart of Fresh Pressed Apple Cider
1/4 cup of brown sugar
pinch of salt
4 Cinnamon Sticks
6 Allspice Berries
6 Whole Cloves
1 Tblsp Mace

Bamix Immersion Blender

Kuhn-Rikor Peeler    

Peeler (Kuhn-Rikon Swiss peeler is best I have ever used)
Dutch Oven (aprox 9.5 qts, I use the Le Creuset 9.5 qt French Oven)
 Sharp Chefs Knife
Cutting Board
2 qt Sauce Pan
2 Large Mixing bowls
Immersion Blender

You can use many different apples for apple butter. I like to use an assortment of sweet and tart apples. My ratio was about 2/3 sweet Braeburn apples to Granny Smith.

Cinnamon, Clove, Allspice, Mace

There are many ways to go about starting the process and most recipes I have found add chopped whole apples to the dutch oven and then use a food mill to clean the apple from the peels and cores. That is a messy process that sucks. But the peels provide flavor and natural pectin, so we don’t want to just discard them. I decided to split the process by peeling the apples and coring them. I discarded the cores with the seeds as they are bitter. I kept the ends and peels of the apples, putting them in a mixing bowl or into the sauce pan to await the cooking process. 
Apple Slicer/Corer
All the cleaned apple goes straight into the large dutch oven. Add 1/3 of the apple cider to the apples in the dutch oven and cover. Put into an oven at 300 degrees.
Cleaned Apples in Dutch oven
To the peels in the sauce pan add the remaining cider and all spices and simmer, covered, on low on stove top. Stir occasionally and simmer for about 45-60 min. Until the peels and apple bits are very soft and mushy. Allow to cool and strain the juices. This does not need to be fine strained. Just separate the peels and spices from the juice and apple.
Peels, ends, spices, cider

Add this juice now to the cooking apples. This should be already about 1.5 hours in oven after cooking the peels and straining. Cook this for another 3 hours covered.
Strained spiced juice

After 3 hours, the apples should be very soft and mushy. Remove dutch oven and use an immersion blender to puree the apples until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, the brown sugar and stir into apples.

Cooking apples with spiced juice

Cook one more hour covered. After one hour you will remove the top and stir and return to the oven uncovered. Lower heat in oven to 250 degrees. This will now enter the longest portion  of the process.

Periodic stirring is necessary to keep the apple butter uniform in the slow dehydration and carmelization process. The apples will eventually reduce by about 2/3. When the top of the apple butter begins to brown, it is time to stir. Probably about once every 30-45 minutes or so.

Pureed apples cooking with top off

Overnight the oven should be set low about 200 degrees or turned off if you plan to be asleep for a long time or are away. You can set the oven to 200 again in the morning.
The apple butter will continue to brown, thicken and reduce.
Apple butter midway through process

This process cannot be rushed by turning up the heat. There is too much of a chance that the apple butter will burn. You can turn off the oven if you will not be home for several hours. You can resume the process when you return. The Apple Butter will be chocolate brown when down.

Finished Apple Butter

Apple Butter in clean 12 oz jars

The Apple Butter will be stable indefinitely. Store in refrigerator.


You can do this several ways. One is to make a compound butter with the apple butter, unsalted butter and some brown sugar. The other is to add the apple butter, butter, brown sugar and hot water to sauce pan and bring to a boil.

1/2 Cup of Butter (1 Stick)
1/2 Cup Apple butter
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

3-4 servings

Butter and Apple butter at room temp. Add all ingredients to a food processor. Store covered in refrigerator.

In 8-10 oz hot drink mug add 2 oz aged rum, one or two large spoonfuls of the compound butter. Top with boiling hot water and stir.

With this method and an airpot of hot water you can make drinks to order.

Same Quantities add to sauce pan. Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
In hot drink mug or coffee mug add 2 oz of aged rum. Top with hot butter mixture.

Try a big spoonful of Irish Oatmeal Horchata in the cup for the most creamy and velvety satisfying buttered rum I have ever had. Substitute for the brown sugar.

Recipe for Irish Oat Horchata/Orgeat coming soon!

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