Pennsylvanian Apple Butter

This version of apple butter is probably Dutch in origin, since many Dutch people went to America in the eighteenth century and settled in Pennsylvania. Despite the name, it doesn’t contain butter at all, just lots of stewed apples cooked with sweet cider, sugar and spices to a thick purée, which is usually spread on toast. The main texture determinant is the amount of sugar used: the more sugar, the stiffer it is.


  • 1.5 litres/ pints sweet cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 kg / lb apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 450 g/ 1 lb caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground allspice


Put the cider in a pan with the cinnamon stick and cloves, and boil rapidly to reduce to about 600 ml/ 1 pt.

Stir the apples into the cider. Return to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes and making sure you push the spoon right to the edges where it is most likely to burn. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and cloves.

Transfer to a food processor and blitz briefly before pushing through a sieve back into the pan. Add the caster sugar and allspice and continue to cook over the lowest heat for 40–45 minutes, stirring frequently and thoroughly.

Allow to cool, put into sterilized jars and seal with lids. This apple butter can be eaten immediately, but will keep for about 6 months. Once opened, keep it in the fridge.