Tart apples swirled with fragrant spices, cooking low and slow for hours: this is the official smell of autumn at my house. This old-fashioned apple butter canning recipe is the perfect way to kick off fall! When you steam the apples at the start, the apple skins become super easy to remove and you eliminate the need for processing through a food mill (I will do anything to avoid cleaning a food mill!). Then, you simply cook the apple puree down until it becomes a thick, spreadable fruit butter. When it’s reached the right consistency, you can freeze it or can it (but I prefer to can it!). Make some bread or biscuits while it’s cooking so you can have hot apple butter on toast!
The BEST old-fashioned apple butter canning recipe
This recipe is close to my heart – my mom started with a recipe in an old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook and made adjustments year after year to arrive at this recipe. It’s perfectly sweet, spicy, tart, and tangy. Jars of this apple butter make an amazing gift (you could even gift sets of apple butter and Amish peach butter!).
Old-Fashioned Apple Butter Canning Recipe
This is the BEST old-fashioned apple butter canning recipe out there! Perfectly sweet and spicy apple puree cooks down to a smooth, spreadable fruit butter.
6 lbs. apples (tart cooking apples are best) cored and quartered
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups apple cider or pressed apple juice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
In a large Dutch oven or kettle, add apples and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook over medium-low heat for about 35 minutes – the skins should easily separate from the apples. Lift the cooked apples out with a slotted spoon and let them cool. Remove the skins and puree the apple pulp with apple cider and return to the pot with the water (you may have to work in batches). Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 4-6 hours, stirring often.
Place canning lids in warm water for 5 minutes to soften the rubber seal. Fill sterilized, hot half-pint jars with hot apple butter, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top. Seal (don’t tighten the ring too much) and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place a small rack or tea towel inside your pot so the jars aren’t sitting directly on the bottom surface, then add your jars in and process for 8 minutes.
Use a jar lifter to remove from boiling water and set them on a tea towel on the counter. Don’t worry about removing water, tightening the rings, or anything like that – you want to let the jars finish sealing completely on their own. As the jars cool, they’ll vacuum seal and you’ll hear a “pop” as the center of the lid is sucked down. After 24 hours, if any cans are still unsealed, put them in the fridge and use that apple butter first.