Apple butter is a concentrated form of apple sauce that is made by slow cooking apples with either cider or water. It is usually used as a spread on bread and toasts, served as a side dish, used for baking and also as a condiment. Though this condiment is known as butter, it does not contain any dairy butter. The reason it is called so is because of its soft and creamy consistency. It is part of the traditional Pennsylvanian Dutch dinner table array, which usually includes ‘seven sweets and seven sours’.
History of Apple Butter
It is believed that the Pennsylvanian Dutch community popularized the recipe of apple butter in America. As per the Appalachia tradition, families would get together in the autumn and would cook apples in large bath tub sized copper kettles. It used to a day-long affair, with everyone joining in and taking turns stirring the apples. The process of cooking fruit to a thick consistency has been in use since ancient times, more so then, because of the unavailability of modern canning equipment. Prolonged cooking helped preserve fruits for longer periods. Till date, production of the butter is a popular family event in most Pennsylvanian Dutch homes.
What is Apple Butter?
Apple butter is made by cooking apples for so long that the sugar in them caramelizes, thus giving the butter its characteristic brown color and this also ensures that the butter has a long shelf life. This butter is usually spiced with cinnamon, cloves and other spices. Some people even add a little vinegar to give a slight tarty taste to the butter.
Ingredients Used in the Butter
The main ingredients needed for making apple butter are apples, sugar, cider, spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
Preparation of Apple Butter
Apples are peeled, washed and cut into quarters. They are put in a slow cooker and sugar is slowly added, while stirring the contents. Cider is slowly poured onto the apples and the contents are allowed to cook for a few hours. It is important to ensure the apples do not stick to the bottom of the cooker. Once the apples turn soft, all spices are added and allowed to cook for another 5 to 6 hours. The cooked apples and the juices are blended in a processor and the puree is poured back into the slow cooker to cook further. This results in the soft and creamy butter that can be used in multiple ways.
Popular Recipes that use Apple Butter
There are many recipes that use apple sauce to make some wonderful dishes. Some popular recipes are –
- Apple Butter Bread Spread – This spiced bread is a baked dish that is prepared with flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, apple sauce and it is spiced with cinnamon, pecans and golden raisins. All ingredients are blended well and baked. It is generally served at room temperature.
- Protein Bars – These bars contain some highly nutritious ingredients that include oatmeal, dates, apricot, ground cinnamon and cloves, sugar and apple butter. All ingredients are mixed well and spread in a baking sheet and baked, resulting in delicious protein rich bars.
- Spiced, Sweet Spiced, Rum-raisin, Maple, Apple Fig Butter are other variations of the butter.
Apple Butter – Trivia
Apple butter can be used as an alternative in recipes that call for apple jam or jelly.