How to Make Apple Butter

The baby slept until nearly eight o’clock. This may be the result of daylight savings time, the children’s Tylenol I dosed her with last night, for she has a bit of a cough, or I have finally been visited by Grace. The morning was sunny, and relatively warm. The coffee was strong with lots of cream and sugar, and we arrived on time to music class, where we sang and danced and played instruments and later read books together upstairs in the library, and there were dogs. At home we had a healthy lunch of beans and beets and cheese and went right up to her sunny room for more reading, dancing, and a nap. She sits in front of the window, crosses her ankles and flips the pages of her board books, and it is lovely. I crept out of her room and she was asleep within minutes and slept for almost two hours, during which time I read a novel I have been meaning to read, took a bath, looked at blogs, and started prepping my apples. She awoke and we had apple snacks. We chased the dog around the house. She helped sweep by following me around with the dustpan and said the word, “Up” for the first time. I picked her up. I put her down. I picked her up. I put her down. I mixed up biscuit ingredients, and blended my butter. I walked the dog and took pictures of turkeys and other such rustic beauty.

This is how I want to remember my life right now. A story that may or may not be entirely nonfiction. The thing about the internet, that is, the thing about the internet now, in 2013, is that it used to be all about confession, and now it’s either boasting or complaining; so little seems straight from the heart. All that I recounted did actually happen. Except we also watched the beginning of Easy Rider and sat for a while on the couch, I burnt my fingers on the oven and swore, loudly, she flung most of her beans to the ground, while I pleaded with her to please not fling her beans, which the dog then ingested and now she has gas. The recipe is all real however, and really good, I swear. I baked a batch of quick biscuits for slathering, but apple butter is also excellent with waffles, pancakes, crusty bread, and, let’s be honest, straight from the jar.

How to Make Apple Butter
Adapted from a recipe in Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It by Karen Solomon


  • 4 lbs cooking apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • Pinch of salt


In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter and add apples. Cook apples until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add cider, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mash softened apples with a potato masher. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and salt. Using an immersion blender, puree mixture until smooth.

Pour apple mixture evenly into a baking dish. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced, about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Let cool before serving. I packed up the apple butter in jam jars; it will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.


  1. Sounds like the perfect day…and they go way too fast. Though it may not seem that way at the time! Always wanted to make apple butter but I will wait until my tree gifts my grass towards the end of summer. That seems like a long time away!

  2. Next time throw it in the crockpot uncovered on low (or high, if your crockpot is older than you are like mine) works great and can be convently ignored while you chase the kid around. Be careful of spicing too much before it reduces – it get stronger as it cooks.

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