In my neck of the woods, folks gather on cold autumn days at churchyards and fire halls to make apple butter. It starts with seconds from the local orchard and includes a massive copper kettle over an open fire in the yard. The festivities begin with the “snitzing” the evening before where everyone comes to peel, core, and chop apples and continue into the next day until every drop of the wonderful sweetness is packaged in clean Mason jars. You don’t have to go to the orchard for apples, or even own a copper kettle, to make this lacto-fermented apple butter. It’s much simpler than that.
Getting a daily dose of probiotics couldn’t be simpler than with this versatile, easy to make apple butter. Apple butter is a flavorful, spreadable apple preserve that’s perfect on toast, adds flavor and moisture to quick bread loaves, and is a great topping for yogurt or pancakes in the morning. You can also use it on pork chops to add a bit more health and flavor to your dinner.
Making fermented apple butter couldn’t be simpler. Start by making apple butter, then add a culture and let it ferment for a few days before enjoying it any way you choose. If you really want to save time and still get the health benefits, you can even start with store-bought natural, preservative-free apple butter and add a culture to that.
How to Make Lacto-Fermented Apple Butter
- 8-12 apples (roughly 3 lbs)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water (or apple juice)
- 2-3 tablespoons honey (optional)
- 2 tablespoons whey
- Wash, peel, core and slice the apples.
- Add the apples to a slow cooker with water and cinnamon, and cook on low until the apples are soft and mashable. Depending on the variety of apples and the heat of your slow cooker this could take between four and 12 hours. Grainy apples, like yellow delicious or gala, tend to cook down faster.
- Use a stick blender, food processor, or blender to completely pulverize the apples into a smooth applesauce. In a pinch, you can also use a potato masher or whisk and a longer cook time to break up your apples.
- At this point, you have a smooth applesauce that needs to be cooked down into a thick rich apple butter. Remove the lid from your slow cooker and continue to cook the apple butter down for an additional one to four hours until it reaches the desired consistency. Be careful to watch it and stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- Test the apple butter for sweetness, and add honey to taste. Most varieties of apples will not require sweetening since their sugars are being concentrated into apple butter.
- Remove the apple butter from the heat and transfer to wide-mouth Mason jars to cool to room temperature.
- Yield will vary based on the type of apple and total cook time, but at this point, you should have roughly three to four cups that should fit in a single wide-mouth quart or two wide-mouth pint jars. Either add two tablespoons of whey to your wide-mouth quart, or one tablespoon to each wide-mouth pint jar and stir.
- Cover the jars with a Fermentools lid and water lock, and allow to ferment at room temperature for two to three days (or longer, depending on your taste).
- Test your finished product, and if you’re happy with the fermentation level, change out the water lock lid for a loose-fitting standard Mason jar lid and place the apple butter in the fridge. It should keep for several weeks, if not longer.
Lacto-Fermented Apple butter is the perfect spread for sourdough English muffins, sourdough naan, or even sourdough Belgian waffles.
When life gives you apples, make apple butter. And don’t get caught without enough supplies on hand. Visit the Fermentools store today. Our 12-pack kit is perfect for when you have bushels and bushels to do.
Ashley is an off-grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie, and foraging. Read more about her adventures at VermontMangoPlantation.com.