DO YOU HAVE TO ADD SUGAR TO CAN APPLES?
Generally, apple butter recipes contain a large amount of sugar in relation to the apples. Because I don’t eat a lot of added sugar in daily life, it felt weird to be canning apple butter and dumping multiple cups of sugar into it. So I researched some food preservation extension office articles to find out – do you really have to add all that sugar to safely can apple butter?
I found out that thankfully, you don’t have to add any sugar at all to apples to safely can them! In another article HERE it explains research-based guidelines on the use of sugar when canning fruit. Basically, when canning fruit, sugar aids in retaining flavor and texture of the fruit. The fruit’s shape and texture will be preserved better over time with increased amounts of sugar, compared to recipes with no or low sugar, but it is not necessary.
MAKING YOUR OWN HEALTHY APPLE BUTTER SAVES MONEY!
As you can see in the above picture, which I took when shopping at my local grocery store tonight, buying apple butter with no added sugar from the store, that is “just apples”, comes at a steep price! You will save a lot of money by canning your own healthy apple butter!
In the recipe below, I used naturally sweet apples – Gala or Fuji – which decreased the need to add sugar for a sweet flavor. I added just 3 Tbsp of honey, to balance out the sourness of the lemon juice, which was added to help retain color and quality over time. I would suggest using the apple butter within one year of canning for maximum quality in taste, texture, and nutrition. This apple butter really is nutritious, especially since it contains the apple peels, and is much lower in sugar compared to traditional apple butter recipes! I gave this apple butter out as a Christmas gift last year, and my husband’s grandma called me within a few days to let me know that it was the best apple butter that she had ever had! My favorite way of eating it is on top of whole grain pancakes along with a dollop of whipped cream – it tastes like apple pie for breakfast!
This recipe is great for people with diabetes, for people trying to lose weight, or for those who are just trying to cut down on sugar consumption.
EASY STEPS TO MAKE DELICIOUS LOW-SUGAR APPLE BUTTER
(Recipe fills 4-5 half-pint canning jars)
5 lbs sweet apples (about 10 large apples – I prefer gala or fuji)
½ cup water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
- Core apples and slice them into wedges. No need to peel.
- Place cut apples in a slow cooker and pour ½ cup water over apples, into the slow cooker. Cover with lid and turn cooker on high.
- Cook apples for 2-3 hours until they become soft, stirring them every 30 minutes.
- After apples are soft, use an immersion blender to blend them into an applesauce-like consistency. (If you don’t own an immersion blender, you can use a blender to blend the mixture in batches, and then return it to the slow cooker.)
- Add lemon juice, honey, vanilla extract, and spices. Stir into mixture.
- Continue to slow cook apples on high for an additional 5-6 hours, removing the lid the last hour of cooking to allow moisture to escape. Butter is done when it remains rounded on a spoon, without liquid separating.
- While still hot, pour the apple butter into sterile canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Follow proper canning procedures and appropriate boiling times based on the altitude where you live. If you are unfamiliar with canning, you can find instructions on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website HERE. Label and date the jars after they have cooled, and store in a cool, dark place for up to one year to retain maximum quality.