• Great Grandma's Apple Butter {Recipe}

    by  • September 6, 2011 • Family, Preserving, Recipes • 13 Comments

    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.

    great grandma's apple butter recipeI 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 handwritten apple butter recipeingredients for apple butter recipe



    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:

    Rhubarb Crunch



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    I live to eat and eat to live, planning every meal to include as much local and seasonal abundance as possible. I often wear purple and never refuse a drink.


    13 Responses to Great Grandma's Apple Butter {Recipe}

    1. Sarah
      September 9, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      About how many apples do you need to make 8 cups of stewed/pureed apples?

      • December 12, 2011 at 12:36 am

        Sarah, I apologize for just now seeing this. 12-14 good sized apples should make 8 cups puree.

    2. lori
      September 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm

      I am going to make this asap because I keep my sugar in the exact same container (ikea!) and have the same spices (Penzey’s!). My crock pot is different–otherwise I’d be scared!

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    4. Candace
      December 11, 2011 at 10:29 pm

      I’m allergic to cinnamon (a great curse in life). Do you think increasing the other spices and leaving out cinnamon will make a huge difference? If so, is there another spice I can use? I love apple butter and want to make it so I can actually eat it without having a reaction!

      • December 12, 2011 at 12:37 am

        Are you allergic to allspice? I am in love with that spice right now and it has hints of cinnamon. I would up the allspice to 1 teaspoon and maybe add a tiny bit of glove or ground nutmeg also.

    5. Ann
      May 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      I am a diabetic how much sugar subsitute do I need to use

      • May 18, 2012 at 10:01 am

        Ann, I haven’t experimented with sugar substitutes because I’ve read that many sugar substitutes don’t hold up well in canning. You could try skipping the sugar all together and just rely on the natural sugars in the apples.

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    7. sue maynard
      November 12, 2012 at 10:51 am

      I just received an old recipe for apple butter from my cousin. The recipe came from his Mom, my Aunt. I thought I would compare it to ones online before trying it. Aunt Gladys also cooked it in the oven for several hours at low heat. (scary) Her recipe just adds water, no apple cider vinegar, and more cinnamon. I am thinking of trying your spice mixture. She also added a handful of red hots and cinnamon oil. Maybe I don’t want to change things a lot but this sounds like a lot of cinnamon. Allspice may be the answer. I will taste as I go along I guess!! Do you think spices added could be up to individual taste and as long as it is cook long and slow to the correct consistency maybe it would be ok?

    8. Dawn McKendrick
      October 11, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      I am new to canning & I am having fun!!! Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe.

    9. Steve B
      July 29, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      Looking at her handwritten recipe…..am I reading it correctly?! She used 16 cups of sugar?! Wow, seems excessive. I LOVE apple butter. She must have used a roasting pan. LOL

    10. Johnny
      October 24, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Made this myself yesterday. Really nice recipe but would probably cut the sugar down at least half a cup next time – personal preference. Great use of the crockpot though!

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