Traditional Apple Butter


  • 25 medium apples
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • Sugar (1/4 cup per 1 cup puree, or to taste)
  • Salt
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons


Cut apples in quarters, without peeling or coring them. Cut out damaged parts.
Put the apples in a large pot, add the vinegar and water, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cook until the apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Purée the apples through a food mill. Add sugar, spices, lemon zest, and juice. 

Measure resulting puree. Add 1/4 cup of sugar for each cup of apple pulp. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add a dash of salt, and the cinnamon, ground cloves, allspice, lemon rind and juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Cook the apple mixture uncovered in a large, wide, thick-bottomed pot on medium -ow heat, stirring often to prevent burning. Scrape the bottom of the pot while you stir to make sure a crust does not form on the bottom.

Cook until thick and smooth (about 1 to 2 hours). A small bit spooned onto a chilled (in the freezer) plate will be thick, not runny.

As an alternative to stovetop cooking you can cook the purée uncovered in a microwave, on medium heat setting to simmer, for around 30 minutes. If you do this, monitor the cooking every 5 or 10 minutes. Microwaves vary in their power.

Ladle apple butter into sterilized jars, and process in a hot water canning kettle for 10 minutes.

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