All About Apple Butter

Becky Low, from the Dairy Farmers of Utah shares some ideas on apple butter.

In the late 1700 – early 1800 America began moving west. To ensure the stability of the newly established homesteads the law required each settler to plant 50 apple trees the first year. Because of poor transportation and food availability, apples were a practical necessity of early settlers’ diets. John Chapman (or Johnny Appleseed) owned many tracts of land throughout Ohio and Indiana which he used to plant apple seeds, transplant seedlings and set out orchards. He sold and gave trees and seeds to early settlers and the fame of Johnny Appleseed spread.

In 2009, Utah produced 429,000 bushels of apples. That’s a lot of pie, sauce and butter. For a listing of Utah apple orchards see

What is Apple Butter, what is the history?

Basically it is very thick sweet spiced applesauce. It is cooked slowly over a long period until the sugar caramelizes. Traditionally apple butter was made outside in large copper pots by early American colonists and settlers as a way to use the apple crop. Today, it might be argued it is difficult to buy good apple butter in the grocery store. There are foodie stores and specialty gourmet stores which come close to the homemade version – but no contest to making it in your kitchen.

How do you make apple butter – isn’t it messy and takes a long time?

My mother made applebutter when I was a child. I remember her cooking and stirring all day (or making one of us kids stir, which was even worse). Because the butter was so thick it frequently popped and splattered and it always had a tendency to burn. I was not impressed … at least not then. Traditionally apple butter was made outside in big copper kettles over open fire. The butter and the fire had to be tended all day.
Today our love affair with crockpots makes it much easier. You can create a nostalgic taste and wonderful aroma in your kitchen with little fuss and no mess – it still takes all day to make, but you don’t have to stand and stir and your kitchen is clean when you’re through.

How do you eat it, what does it go with?

It is thick, so it spreads well on toast or cheese sandwiches – but the uses don’t stop there.
You can stir some into yogurt, oatmeal or granola. You can use it for savory dishes and meats to give it some sweetness.

You can find more nutrition ideas at

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