Autumn is not the time to put your canner back into storage. Instead, this is the season where canning can really kick into high gear. Apples are at their peak and apple butter is such a wonderful and delicious treat. Smooth and creamy, there is no butter in apple butter, but rather the texture is silky like butter. This spread can be used in cakes, trifles, whoopie pies, or spread on toast or English muffins. Apple butter can also be substituted for some of the fat in many baking recipes to produce delicious baked goods that are better for you.

I like to use a variety of apples for this recipe. Suggested apples that work well are Granny Smith, Braeburn, Cortland, Jonagold, Newtown Pippin, and Winesap.

This recipe also uses a few sprigs of rosemary. While the rosemary flavor is not bracing and pronounced, the fragrant evergreen herb adds a nice roundness to the finished product.

Preservation method: Waterbath canning

Difficulty level: Easy

Yield: Makes about eight to ten 8-ounce jars

You will need clean jars and closures, a boiling-water canner, rack, jar lifter, canning funnel, and wooden skewer

Apple Rosemary Butter

6 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and quartered

2 cups apple cider

3 cups granulated sugar

2-3 big sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 tsp apple pie spice (I like Penzey’s)

Place a few small plates in freezer for “frozen plate test” below. This test helps determine when the apple butter is not runny and ready for canning.

Place rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner, then place empty jars on the rack. Add water to the jars and the canner until the jars are about two-thirds full. Cover the canner and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Place lids in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil. Keep lids hot until ready to use.

In a large Dutch oven, combine apples, apple cider, and rosemary.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove sprigs of rosemary and set aside on small plate for use again.

Working in batches, transfer apple mixture to a food processor or Vitamix. You can also use a stick blender directly in the Dutch oven. Puree just until a uniform texture is achieved, but do not liquefy. Measure 12 cups of apple puree.

Back in the Dutch oven, combine apple puree, sprigs of rosemary you set aside, sugar, and apple pie spice. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring often, until mixture thickens. At this point check texture. Does it look like smooth butter? If necessary, use a stick blender to further blend it into your desired consistency.

Frozen plate test: Spoon a small amount of apple butter onto a frozen plate. When liquid does not separate, creating a rim around the edge, and mixture holds it’s buttery, spreadable shape, the butter is ready to put into jars.

No pool of liquid around the butter and it holds its shape. This butter is ready to be put into jars.

Remove sprigs of rosemary and discard. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Remove air bubbles with wooden skewer and readjust headspace if needed. Wipe jar rims with damp cloth and ensure there is no fruit or gel on the rims of the jars (or the jars may not seal). Apply lids and bands and adjust until fingertip tight. Place jars in boiling water canner.

When all jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least one inch. Cover the canner with a lid and bring water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, begin counting the processing time of 10 minutes.

Once full time is complete, turn off heat and let jars sit in canner an additional five minutes (this standing time allows the pressure inside the jars to stabilize and reduces the likelihood of liquid loss that could otherwise occur when the jars are removed.)

Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel-lined space. The towel will help reduce the chance of jar breakage. Do not dry the lids or jars at this point. You do not want to disturb the lids while the seals are being formed. Allow jars to cool for 24 hours before removing bands and wiping down jars. Date jars and store in a cool dry place for up to one year.

Recipe modified from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.