A light, silky apple butter with shot through with fresh ginger. Try it with latkes instead of plain applesauce.
Back in October, Janet sent me two boxes. One contained an assortment of apples and the other was filled with fragrant, fuzzy quince. I laid the fruit out on big, rimmed sheet pan and spent a day admiring it (and sniffing the quince for the pleasure of their rosy scent).
Soon though, it was time to get down to the business of preserving. There were enough apples for two recipes (we’ll talk about the quince later). I transformed half the apples into a batch of maple sweetened butter (like this one, but with several tablespoons of apple cider vinegar stirred in at the end for extra tang). The remaining six pounds became this light, gingery butter.
I’ll confess, I’ve gone back and and forth inside my head, debating as to whether or not to actually call this recipe a butter. You see, most of us think of fruit butters as intensely dense things, brown from spices and hours on the stove.
This apple and ginger preserve is light in color and silky in texture. It is zippy and bright where a traditional butter is earthy. But jam isn’t quite right. Neither is jelly, conserve, sauce, or puree. Until I come up with a better name, butter will just have to do.
If you decide to make this preserve, make sure to save those cores and peels left over from prepping the apples. Heap them into a saucepan, add more fresh ginger, and fill the pot with water.
Let it simmer away on the back burner for an hour or so, until the peels are soft and translucent. Once strained, you’ll have an apple-ginger nectar that is delicious sipped warm or chilled. It’s an almost effortless way to get all the goodness from your apples that you can.
In this, the season of latkes (Hanukkah starts on December 6!), I can think of no higher calling for this butter than a top a disc of fried potatoes. However, if latkes aren’t your thing, don’t think you can write this one off. It’s awfully good stirred into a bowl of steel cut oats and I can’t stop imagining it layered into shortbread bar cookie.
Low Sugar Apple Ginger Butter
- 6 pounds apples peeled, cored, and chopped
- 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger approximately 3 ounces
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- fresh lemon juice to taste
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold 4 1/2 to 5 pints of product
- Heap the apples into a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the ginger and water and set the pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Once you see some steam escaping from the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to cook until the apples are completely tender.
- When the apples are fork tender, use an immersion blender to puree them smooth. Increase the heat to medium and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the applesauce turns the color of wildflower honey.
- At this point, add the sugar and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so. The preserve may start to splash a little as it cooks down. If that happens, pull out your trusty splatter shield and set it on top of the pot. If you don't have a splatter shield, another option is to finish cooking the butter in the oven at 300F for half an hour or so.
- When the butter is light but spreadable, it is done. Taste it and add some lemon juice if you feel like the sweetness needs some balance.
- Once you've decided that it's done, funnel the finished butter into your prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
- When the time is up, remove the lid from the pot and slide it off the hot burner. Let the jars cool gradually in the water to help prevent the product from siphoning.
- Finally, remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature and will keep for a couple of years. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
Can we swap out pears for apples?
I’ve not tried it like that, but I don’t see what not.
If you’re going to use the blender anyway, why do you have to peel the apples? Wouldn’t coring and seeding be good enough?
The cooking time on this apple butter isn’t long enough to soften the peels to the point of having them disappear when pureed. Because I wanted this butter to be really light and silky, the peels needed to go.
I like the idea of ginger for apples – have only used for pears in the past. Will try it soon! Also, curious why you like peeling the apples. I don’t – just cook the apples down with the peels on and then puree right in the pot with an immersion blender. The peels disappear into the apple butter and it adds more natural pectic from the peels for thickening (and flavor and nutrition and less work). Is it because you like less texture? More silky? Your traditional way? I know that peeling is more traditional – so am curious! Thanks for this recipe – beautiful!
Hi Lyn! I don’t typically peel the apples if I’m making a really long-cooked apple butter. However, for this preserve, I wanted to keep it light and shorten the cooking time, and so knew that the peels wouldn’t have enough time to soften to the point of being easily pureed. And because I wanted that silky texture, the peels had to go.
Hmm, never used apple butter for latkes, just applesauce–this recipe seems perfect for the pairing!
Why is one photo of a beautiful pink butter? Did you do something special to it? I can think of a so many special occasions to bring a beautiful pink preserve; birth of a new baby girl, little girl birthday party (big girl bithday party), the list goes on and on. What is the secret to the pink blush??
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your books and blog!
So the cores and skins make a blush color, hmmm, food for thought (pun intended). I love how your recipes encourage me experiment. I wish you could get a TV show…….hmmmm food for thought (have any connections at your local PBS satation?).
Can I make and can this without any sugar?
It’s not the same recipe without sugar. What you’re proposing is really just applesauce with added ginger. Instructions for applesauce are here: https://foodinjars.com/2014/10/canning-101-applesauce-faq/
These apples just keep giving and giving! So glad they are bringing sweetness to you still.
Is the pink jar made with the quince? It’s beautiful – I can’t wait to hear about it.
The pink jar is the apple peel and ginger nectar I talk about making in the post. So sorry I wasn’t more clear!
My local grocery store has red delicious apples on sale. Are these a good choice for this recipe?
They’ll work just fine.
Have 8 half pints cooling. Kids can’t wait to try it in the morning lol.
Thanks for the recipe!
Did you grate all that ginger on a microplane?
I’ll substitute 2 cups of sugar(that’s alot) for ginger syrup, maple syrup, date puree or coconut sugar.
Where can I get a good canner set?
It’s actually not a lot when it comes to jam making. You could use coconut sugar in this recipe, though it would darken the butter a great deal.
I’m planning on making this and a few others this weekend to give as gifts. Since my Mom has hypoglacemia and I am doing low carb lifestyle, I plan to substitute one of the cups of regular sugar with 1 cup of the imitation, either splenda or similar brand. Is there anything else I need to do to compensate for the change. I have made jams and chutneys before using a similar method but they had more hearty ingredients.
I freeze my applesauce. Can you freeze this butter?
I don’t suppose you’ll be replying on this old post two min after I ask my question… but I have a pot almost done and realized I have no lemons. Too late to ask my country neighbors. Can I use a dash of vinegar? It needs a little something to balance the sweetness. We are already in love with the ginger flavor. I’m thinking vinegar is okay but I don’t want to ruin it. Here goes,,,
The lemon juice in this preserve is there for flavor, not safety. So it’s fine to swap in a little apple cider vinegar, or even skip the lemon juice entirely if you feel like the flavor is balanced enough without it.