Apple Butter: Preserved for Versatility

— By Laura Easter, Master Food Preserver Volunteer, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Ahh, fall in Maine… the only thing better than the cool crisp air and the return of pumpkin spice everything is the apple harvest! And, there are so many different delicacies that one can preserve from the local apple harvest. Applesauce, apple pie filling, apple chutney, jellies, etc… But, the most underrated (in my humble opinion) of the apple harvest preserved treats is apple butter.

Apple butter can be made from any in season apple variety. My particular favorite to use in my own apple butter are Cortland apples. They are not overly sweet, which makes it easy to play with the flavor profile. I always use the research based recipe and canning instructions for apple butter from the National Center on Food Preservation.

Sometimes I like to add a bit more cinnamon and maybe even a little ground ginger to my apple butter to give it a little more “kick” of flavor. Adding small amounts of dried spices to apple butter does not affect the acidity of the final product, so it remains safe to can and eat.

Apple butter is extremely versatile due to its flavor profile and thick texture. After canning up a batch, you can set some jars aside for the holiday baking days ahead in anticipation of adding it to your breads, cookies, cakes, or pies. Looking for some new ways to flavor your pork? Add some apple butter to that pork loin! Needing a new sweet appetizer for that next holiday get together? Add your apple butter to a block of cream cheese, add in 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt. Blend until smooth. Then, voila! A scrumptious dip for a fruit platter.

On a busy workday morning, I’ll use apple butter as a delicious topper for English muffins, pancakes, and waffles—or (my personal favorite) topping French vanilla ice cream with a spoonful of apple butter. It gives me all the fresh baked apple pie taste without all the work and clean up.