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Colonial Cooking - Apple Butter

Here's a simple and fun example of how to incorporate cooking into your lessons and/or directly into a unit study.

Apples were highly prized, yet common, because they could be stored for long periods of time. They could also be used very diversely in cooking at any meal. Apple butter was one of the favorite sweets during the colonial and pioneering historical eras of the USA.


Canning directions are included; however, you could store leftovers in the refrigerator for a short time, give excess to friends and family, or freeze in air-tight containers.

Apple Butter

4 cups bottled, unsweetened apple juice or cider*
4 pounds golden delicious apples, peeled, cored, & sliced
1 cups sugar
2 teaspooons ground cinnamon


In a heavy bottomed, 8 quart pan, bring apple juice to a boil over high heat. Add apples; reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft enough to mash easily (about 30 minutes). Stir in sugar and cinnamon until well blended. Cook, uncovered, mashing apples and stirring often, until mixture is thickened and reduced to five cups (about 1 hour). Ladle into prepared half pint jars, leaving headspace. Process for five minutes.

Yield: about five half-pints.

*Cider gives the apple butter a deeper, richer (and some say stronger) flavor. My recommendation is to stick with the apple juice unless you really love the flavor of cider.

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