Thursday, October 7, 2010

PA Dutch Apple Butter

PA Dutch Apple Butter
Dorcas Annette Walker

Autumn has finally arrived up here in the Tennessee Mountains with chilly nights and warm days. I’ve been keeping a fire in my woodstove relishing the warmth of a crackling fire. The smell of wood smoke wafting on the air, dried leaves swirling downward, and the popping sound of acorns hitting the hard ground somehow makes one feel energetic once again. Even our ancient chocolate lab, Sandy, kicks up her heels and rolls around on her back in the grass as if to savor the last bit of warmth from the earth. Now is the time for gathering in the last bit of garden vegetables before the first frost hits while pumpkins and apples finish ripening. Although my pantry shelves are overflowing with canned goods, like the squirrels outside, I still want to put up more food. The sight of baskets filled with colorful apples in the market draws me like a magnet.

This is the time to make up a big batch of my homemade apple butter using an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. Just like it takes a mixture of the right kinds of apples to produce good cider so does the blending of certain spices make high-rate apple butter. Once you have tasted the PA Dutch Apple Butter you will never be satisfied with what they sell in the stores now-a-days. My Mennonite grandmother made apple butter in huge black pots over a fire out in her yard that she would put up and sell in their market. I enjoy keeping the family tradition going. There is something captivating about the smell of apple butter slowly cooking on the stove sending out a spicy aroma that makes all the hours it takes to prepare well worth the effort.

My PA Dutch Apple Butter has a thick dark-brown sweet smooth texture of intermingling spices that can be used in different ways: to make a filling apple butter sandwich, spread on one slice of bread, used for filling in stack cakes, and on top of fried squash. While there are recipes that cook apple butter in microwaves, ovens, or the Crockpot, I prefer cooking mine on the stove in large roaster pans like I’ve always done. Preparation time for making up a batch of PA Dutch Apple Butter is three to four hours and this recipe makes seven pints.

PA Dutch Apple Butter

12 c of unsweetened applesauce
6 c sugar
1 tb cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp allspice

Mix all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a large roaster pan boiling slowly for at least three hours until thickened. Pour into pint jars and can for ten minutes to seal. Let cool completely before serving!

Weekly tip: One bushel of apples quartered, cooked, and processed into applesauce will be enough to quadruple (four times) this recipe yielding thirty pints of apple butter with one quart of applesauce left!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

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