There are several creative ways to cut fat and calories in baked goods such as desserts without compromising on the taste. Apple butter is a healthy replacement for butter and oil. Despite the fact that there is no actual butter in apple butter, the name comes from it’s smooth and buttery texture. Apple butter is essentially a high concentrate form of apple sauce that requires slow cooking the apples in cider or water until the sugar in the apples caramelizes, thus turning the apple butter dark brown. The concentration of sugar gives apple butter the texture of preserves rather than apple sauce. I whipped up a batch in 20-30 minutes. In terms of choosing apples that are best for you, I appreciate a diversity in flavors of sweet, tart, mellow, and tangy. Since making apple butter is more of a technique than a strict recipe, you can use any amount of apples you want. I used honey in this recipe rather than brown sugar, but any natural sweetener will work as well. I like to mix a bit of apple butter into my oatmeal because it already contains the flavors I need rather than adding sugar and cinnamon. Fruit butter may seem intimidating to make but it isn’t. You don’t need any fancy equipment or exotic ingredients that are hard to locate. Gluten-free, vegan, and low-fat, this apple butter is easy to make and can be used as fillings for apple turnovers and pies.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 4 lbs of apples of your choice, cored, peeled, and chopped
- 1 cup of apple cider or water
- 2/3 cup of honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- Juice and zest from one small orange (some people use lemon. I prefer the flavors from the orange)
- Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves to taste (I don’t remember the exact measurements I used)
Place all ingredients in a stock pot. Cover and bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until apples are soft. Mash apples with a wooden spoon or a ricer for 20 minutes. Remove apple mixture from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Place it back on the heat and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened. You can refrigerate this up to 2 weeks.
Yields about 2 cups