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Apple butter as ingredient   Go to last post Go to last unread
#1 Posted : Thursday, March 9, 2023 4:29:30 PM(UTC)
I'm new to apple butter as a recipe ingredient, and there seems to be a lot of variation in the apple butters you can buy (or make). If a recipe calls for apple butter, is it expecting a sweetened apple butter? One with spices or without? With vinegar or without?

Anyone have thoughts on this? The most recent recipe I was looking at was one for grilled cheese, with cheddar, thinly sliced apples and apple butter.
#2 Posted : Thursday, March 9, 2023 6:10:12 PM(UTC)

I live in an area where apple butter is a traditional food; it's made with sugar, and spices (cinnamon at minimum, usually others too). Vinegar isn't part of the local type; such tartness as there is comes from the apples.

[Edited to add:] The Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge foothills have been apple growing areas for a while, and apples were a big part of the old subsistence farms' foodways. But I learned a few years ago that what really made apple butter take off as a common community product here was the proliferation of big copper pots for whiskey stills during Prohibition. Apple butter making was the reason people said they were buying them, and then after Prohibition ended they did indeed get used for that by Ruritan clubs, churches, etc.

#3 Posted : Saturday, March 11, 2023 4:20:14 AM(UTC)

Originally Posted by: MollyB Go to Quoted Post
… there seems to be a lot of variation in the apple butters you can buy (or make) …
It is the same for ingredients like curry powder, garam masala, Chinese five spice, herbs de provence, etc. with variations depending on who makes it up or region.

#4 Posted : Saturday, March 11, 2023 5:16:09 PM(UTC)

Like ellabee, to me apple butter is spiced, sweet and extremely concentrated. I have used apple sauce in recipes as a replacement for fat, but if apple butter is called for then I would expect to taste the spices.

#5 Posted : Saturday, March 11, 2023 5:49:42 PM(UTC)
I agree that the taste of apple butters can vary a lot. So when I use apple butter as an ingredient I only use my own apple butter; then, I make adjustments accordingly. For example I may use apple butter as an ingredient for a condiment, say for a pork roast. if I make the butter mildly spiced and sweetened, this gives me more flexibility to adjust the taste of the condiment- by adding vinegar, maple syrup or mustard. Because apple butter is more concentrated apple, the condiment is also more apple-forward in taste.
#6 Posted : Monday, March 13, 2023 7:13:20 PM(UTC)
Frogcake, and others who've made your own: What kind of pot and heat source & method do you use?

For 15 years, I relied on a particular local club's prize-winning output. Then the main organizer of their apple butter cookdown began to have health problems, there was a year or two gap, and now the new version is very different and not to my taste at all.

The prize-winner had a deep, concentrated apple flavor with subtle spicing; the new stuff tastes like cinnamon red-hots, completely overpowering the apple. I can't imagine using it as an ingredient. It's barely acceptable for apple butter's most forgiving & common use (also its best and highest use imo): slathered on hot skillet cornbread with some butter butter.
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