My Great Grandma Davis, mother of my father’s mother Joyce, was an old school home cook. She grew a large garden and Grandpa fished to feed themselves fresh and cheap food. Grandma later used her kitchen experience to serve as a school cook for many years in the decades where everything was prepared from scratch on site.
Because Grandma lived into her nineties, I grew up knowing her. I remember eating a breakfast of biscuits and jams at her house in Missouri as a very young child. Sadly, she died before I was interested in food and could learn from her depth of home cooking knowledge.
I do know that Grandma put up everything she could, including apple butter. For years, I hesitated to remake her recipe because I was afraid I could live up to her version. But for you, dear blog readers, I sifted through recipe cards at my parents’ house and pulled out Great Grandma’s Apple Butter.
Just reading Grandma’s handwriting stirs up sentimental feelings of opening birthday cards and Christmas gifts lovingly addressed by her hand. Click on the card image to see it larger. I love that she simply wrote ‘seal in jars’ as if every woman of her day would know exactly how to do that. I consulted the National Center for Home Food Preservation to find the proper canning time.
I suspect I will never alter this recipe because there is a certain nostalgia in making apple butter exactly as my great grandmother did. Not knowing Leona, however, you might want to substitute some brown sugar for the white and change the spices. Ground ginger would play nicely with the other flavors, as would nutmeg. I did reduce quantities and update the recipe to make it slow cooker friendly.
My father made this recipe a few years ago and noted that he would prefer less vinegar. I think the iteration I made with Liberty Pink applesauce and homemade cider vinegar had a perfect balance. We suspect that the variety of apple makes all the difference and you may wish to taste before adding all the vinegar.
Great Grandma’s Apple Butter Recipe
makes 6 half pints
4 pints applesauce, or 8 cups stewed and pureed apples
3 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup cider vinegar
1. Stir all ingredients in a slow cooker or oven safe pan.
2. Cook on high uncovered, or 200 degrees F, for 4-6 hours, or until reduced by half.
3. Fill jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. As the apple butter is very thick, jiggle the jars or stir with a chopstick to release any air pockets.
4. Wipe rims and place two part lids on jars. Place in water bath canner and process for 5 minutes.
5. Remove jars from water and allow to cool for 12 to 24 hours. Prepare and store for up to one year.
More Davis/Tayse family recipes: