At the Glade Hill Cannery in Franklin County, Virginia, master canner Ronald David helps his neighbors process local heritage apples—like tart, vinous Staymans—into dense, jammy apple butter (see "A Living Larder"). The concentrated natural sugars, which turn the apple butter a deep chestnut color, also help to preserve it. David also stresses the importance of adding salt, which cuts through some of the natural sweetness of the cooked apples. Virginians traditionally pair apple butter with soufflélike cornmeal-batter bread for breakfast, but in the Test Kitchen, we love it on ham sandwiches or as part of a cheese plate.
What You Will Need
- 4 lb. Stayman apples, or another tart variety such as Paula Red or Winesap (about 10), peeled, cored, and quartered
- 3 lb. Golden Delicious apples (about 8–10), peeled, cored, and quartered
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar, or to taste
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the apples; cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 90 minutes.
Transfer the fruit and some of the cooking liquid to a food processor, and process into a coarse sauce. Add the sauce back to the pot and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching, over medium-high heat, about 1 hour. Lower the heat and continue cooking and stirring until the mixture is very thick and dark chestnut in color, about 2½ hours. Stir in the sugar, or more or less to taste depending on the sweetness of the fruit (late-harvest apples tend to be sweeter). Stir in the spices and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Remove the pot from the heat and spoon the apple butter into clean, sterile pint jars. Cover tightly with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.