Apple butter is a sweet and spiced spread cherished in kitchens around the world. Made by simmering apples with sugar and spices, its rich and comforting flavor is unmatched. It’s a go-to for topping toast, pancakes, and waffles, or for infusing desserts and snacks with its warm embrace. Whether spread on morning toast or added to desserts, it brings a touch of warmth and nostalgia to every bite.
This sweet and spiced spread, made from apples, is not exclusive to any one cuisine. It does hold a significant place in American and German culinary traditions. In the United States, it’s associated with fall and holiday baking. It is also used as a versatile ingredient in various dishes. In Germany, it is known as “Apfelkraut”. It is commonly used as a topping and filling for a range of baked goods. While apple butter may have its roots in European culinary practices, it has become a beloved internationally.
Apple Butter and Southern Cooking
In the Southern United States, apple butter is used in a variety of ways. It adds a sweet and spiced flavor to both savory and sweet dishes. Here are some common uses of apple butter in Southern cuisine:
- Biscuit and Toast Topping: One of the most traditional uses is as a spread for biscuits or toast. It’s a sweet and flavorful alternative to butter or jam.
- Pancake and Waffle Topping: It is often drizzled over pancakes and waffles, providing a delicious and aromatic topping.
- Barbecue Sauce: In some Southern barbecue recipes, it is used as an ingredient. In barbecue sauce it adds sweetness and depth of flavor.
- Glaze: It can be used as a glaze for roasted or grilled foods, giving them a sweet and tangy coating.
- Desserts: Apple butter can be incorporated into various desserts, like pies, turnovers, and cookies, to add a rich apple flavor.
- Dressing for Salads: Some Southern salads incorporate it into the dressing to add sweetness and complexity to the flavor profile.
- Sauces for Fried Foods: It’s not uncommon to see apple butter used as a dipping sauce.
- Side Dishes: It can be used as a side dish, much like applesauce.
- Baking: It is often used as an ingredient in baking recipes. Used in muffins, bread, and cakes, it enhances flavor and moisture.
- 5 lbs. apples (washed, peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks. You can leave the peels on for added texture and color if you prefer.)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (adjust to taste)
- ¾ cup brown sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Place the chopped apples in a large pot or slow cooker. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, salt, and lemon juice. Stir everything together to combine.
- If using a stovetop, simmer the apple mixture over low heat, covered, for about 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until the apples are soft and can be easily mashed with a fork.
- Once the apples are soft and cooked down, you can choose to either use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until smooth, blend in a blender, or mash the apples with a potato masher for a chunkier texture.
- If you prefer, you can stir in the vanilla extract at this point for added flavor. Taste the apple butter and adjust the sweetness by adding more sugar if needed, based on your preference.
- Return the mixture to low heat and simmer for an additional 15-30 minutes until it thickens to your desired consistency. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
- Transfer it to clean, airtight containers or glass jars. Store in the refrigerator.