How To Make Apple Butter With 2 Years Shelf-Life

James Walton
By James Walton July 9, 2020 07:12

How To Make Apple Butter With 2 Years Shelf-Life

Each year we head West on I-64 to Carter Mountain Orchard. This is a special trip because our oldest son’s name is Carter and we joke and dream about the orchard being Carter’s. While we have some peach trees on property, we have nothing as elaborate as the rolling hills of gala, fuji and pink lady apples at the orchard.

When making a trek out to an apple orchard you don’t just come home with a couple of pounds of apples. My family and I, we all grab a large bag full of apples and we often end up with something like 20lbs!

Naturally, you cannot just eat 20lbs of apples in the raw form before they start to go sour. That means you must know how to do things, like bake and preserve.

I often wonder how many preppers go to orchards and berry fields to stock up on bulk fresh produce, in season, to bring it home and preserve it for the winter. When you think about it, it’s kind of an interesting opportunity for preppers.

This could be a unique opportunity for urban preppers to stock up on high quality food they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. If they can learn how to can and dry these fresh foods, it could be a huge help if they plan on bugging in.

One of our favorite things to make with all these apples is apple butter. That is because it’s simple to make, cheap and lasts a long time.

Related: 50 High Value Items To Stockpile For When SHTF

Apple Butter History

In the middle ages German and Belgian monasteries were having great success with apple orchards and the yields were plentiful. Just like anything else, these large yields could be a bit of a challenge because the ripe fruit only lasts so long.

How To Make Apple Butter With 2 Years Shelf-LifeNecessity is always the mother of invention and these monasteries started making a highly concentrated applesauce, that would come to be the apple butter we know today. It would have been processed and stored long term, much in the same way that it is today!

Apple butter also enjoyed considerable popularity here in the States during colonial times. In these days, women would have been processing apples as they came into season. This was a massive undertaking and was taking up much of their time in the fall.

To make the apple butter in the 1700’s women would have used pared apples boiled down with cider. It would have been very similar to what we eat in modern times, but I assume less sweet. This product would have been eaten throughout the winter, but it kept much longer than that.


  • 5lbs of Apples (peeled, cored, diced)
  • 2 Cups of Sugar
  • 2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ Tsp of Allspice
  • ¼ Tsp of Salt


Place all the ingredients into a slow cooker and stir them well to mix thoroughly.

How To Make Apple Butter With 2 Years Shelf-LifeCook the ingredients on high for one hour.

After hour one, reduce the heat to low and cook for 9-10 hours on low, stirring occasionally.

How To Make Apple Butter With 2 Years Shelf-LifeRemove the lid and continue cooking on low for 1 hour.

The more you stir the mix, the smoother it will be in the end.

How To Make Apple Butter With 2 Years Shelf-Life

Spoon your mixture into sterilized mason jars to begin the canning process.

Leave a couple inches of head space in each jar.

How To Make Apple Butter With 2 Years Shelf-Life

Wipe the rims of the jars clean, so your apple butter can seal properly.

Screw your canning lids on but, not too tight.

Canning Apple Butter

Apple butter can be canned using the water bath canning method. This means that you don’t even need a pressure cooker to can this butter for your food storage prepper pantry. Let’s have a look at some of the cook times for various sizes of mason jars.

  • ½ Pints-Pints – 10 minutes, 6,000 ft elevation and below/15 minutes above 6,000 ft elevation
  • Quarts – 15 minutes, 6,000ft elevation and below/20 minutes above 6,000ft elevation

You can create a hot water bath in a large pot that will hold all your canning jars. Place a wire rack or canning rack into the bottom of the pot, to keep them from touching the bottom directly.

You want your jars to be off the bottom, not touching each other and submerged in about 2 inches of water.

Your processing time begins when the water comes back to a boil, after you have added the jars of apple butter to the water bath.

From here you can cover the pot and set the timer.

Related: Canning Amish Poor Man’s Steak

After processing, remove the cans to a counter that is covered with a towel. Let these cool here over night. As the night wanes on you might hear the occasional click of a lid sealing. The outside air pressure will begin to push down on these jars of apple butter, sealing the food inside.

How To Make Apple Butter With 2 Years Shelf-Life

Don’t forget to label and date these jars to assure you know when the oldest were made. This is very important because you could have carried over next year and it will be vital that you know which is the oldest.

It’s been a long time since I started down this path of preparedness. There was a time when I saw prepping topics from one angle. Now things like food and water appear to me as many sided and many layered opportunities.

These basics of prepping appear to me almost as diamonds. From my experience, I have had the most success when attacking an issue from as many sides as possible.

Food storage is not just about buying extra food at the supermarket, it’s about having emergency meals, long term dry food storage, growing a garden, raising chickens and other livestock, having some fruit and nut trees, understanding local and native plants and trees, and knowing how to cook from scratch, and of course, preservation.

Apple butter and the canning process represents a method that can affect preparedness on many levels. It means you can grow your own apples and you can put that food up for the winter. It’s a full circle process that we could all benefit from, if doing it more often.

How much do you take from your garden and preserve for lean times?

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James Walton
By James Walton July 9, 2020 07:12
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  1. Jim July 9, 14:57

    Hi. Just a quick note! We use the same basic recipe for our apple butter but use a steam canner instead of a water bath canner. To date, we have been using upto 6+ year old fruits that we have been get in abundance from various people. We have over years used the opportunity when ever product became available to can as much as possible to have preps for our family and others if necessary.

    Reply to this comment
  2. City Chick July 9, 15:22

    This is an article I would love to print and save to my recipe file for easy reference later this fall in apple season. But, even though there is a handy print button, the print out would include ugly big black bars imbedded for each picture wasting lots of paper and a ton of ink in the process! Is there a work around that?

    Reply to this comment
    • Jim July 9, 18:51

      Try using copy and paste to your word program. Do it that way when ever I want a hard copy for my reference files.

      Reply to this comment
    • Kelley July 9, 19:59

      It is not straightforward, but you could copy & paste just the text into a Word document, then print.

      Reply to this comment
    • jim July 9, 23:53

      sorry!didn’t look at my original reply to you…. old fingers missed the “i” got the “u’…. sorry for the “gender” error!

      Reply to this comment
    • grammy em November 6, 15:10

      you can highlight and copy the article to a word document. then you will be able to change margins and font size, reduce or eliminate pix and other things you don’t want. then send to printer. you can choose to print in black and white if you wish, and choose draft mode to reduce ink usage. at that point you can also save the article to your computer if you wish.

      Reply to this comment
  3. grammy em July 9, 16:15

    you mention leaving a couple inches empty at the top of the jars. it is better to fill further as you get more product per jar and you leave less air in the jar. canning is intended to create a vacuum but with too much air in the jar, that removal is less complete. the result is that some air remains and will hasten the degrading of your product. some foods require an inch of space, others (like jam) as little as 1/4 inch. the ball canning book (that would be the ball canning jar folks) is a long revered source of such detailed info for safe food preservation. if you plan a lot of canning, you may want to own one. most libraries have copies. every state has a university extension service which can provide lots of info about growing and preserving food. the fed usda also has info on food preservation.

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  4. Katie July 9, 16:50

    i would be interested in ideas how to use the applebutter.
    When I was a child my mother put it on our pancakes. and we put it on toast.

    Reply to this comment
    • City Chick July 9, 19:00

      Katie, Think of apple butter as a very dense apple sauce. There are tons of recipes out there that take applesauce. I add it to batters for everything from pancakes to kuchen. I also add it to fillings and make it into a fruit based chutney for a roast pork. The possibilities are endless! Well, that is until you do run out and you need to make some more!

      Reply to this comment
    • Miss Kitty July 10, 04:58

      Excellent to use anywhere you would use jam or marmalade, including
      as filling for Danish, turnovers, tarts,
      to serve as a side with meat such as pork or chicken,
      slathered over hot buttered biscuits ,
      with peanut butter in a sandwich,
      stirred into yoghurt or cottage cheese,
      added to hot oatmeal,
      as an add in for barbeque sauce,
      added to chicken salad
      I hope I’ve given you some ideas, but when in doubt, just try it in whatever you’re eating and see if it works.

      Reply to this comment
    • Fiddler September 20, 05:53

      When my Grandma made apple butter, it was like a soft peanut butter. The all-spice (made with Jamaican Berry flavor — brought by the… Dutch Injuns?) gave it the wham for the taste. She used a bit more than 1/4 tsp, I think. MMM, MMM!!!

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  5. grammy em July 9, 18:16

    as well, it is used in baking. an applesauce cake becomes an apple butter cake. pork roast glazed with apple butter. it also subs for part of the fat or oil in a loaf cake or cookies (up to 1/3).

    grammy em

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  6. Jim July 9, 18:42

    Hi city chuck! Try doing a copy paste to a word document program then print from there. Have done it that way for several posts on this site. Works just fine with no lost content.

    On the subject of jar head space use the ball canning book or extension service bulletins. The most we use is about 1 inch for chicken , the rest is 1/4 to 1/2 inch. We moved several times and a few items got out of rotation and were still good after 10years when we discovered them! Storing in cool, dark, dry spot helps.

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  7. City Chick July 10, 00:04

    Hey Jim, Please know that I Don’t much care what they call me, Just as long as they don’t call me late for diner! Many thanks for your help! Most appreciated typo and all!

    Reply to this comment
  8. IvyMike July 10, 00:46

    My Mom always made extra when she made biscuits because my Dad would slice and butter the leftover biscuits and leave ’em in the oven overnight on ‘warm’. I learned if I got up early the next morning he would be in the kitchen frying some bacon and would share his private breakfast with me, crispy buttery leftover biscuits, bacon, and APPLEBUTTER! What do you do with applebutter? I no longer eat sugar but I used to eat applebutter on everything, great!

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  9. red July 11, 09:45

    Apple butter? Erk. I never liked it, but do like apple sauce. Apple fruit leather is easy and that stores for years. Maybe go a lot lighter on spices, and use it for a marlboro pie? niio

    Reply to this comment
  10. Sabel September 5, 04:44

    My mom used to fix what she called “Schmear-kaese.” That spelling is an un-educated guess. I think it is a Pennsylvania Dutch or German tradition since she was from northeastern Pennsylvania and her grandMother was German. She would spread cream cheese on toast and top it with apple butter. I like to put a layer of peanut butter between the cream cheese and the apple butter – or marmalade, jam or preserves. It makes me feel like I am getting some healthy protein and dairy along with my sugar “fix” at breakfast.

    Reply to this comment
  11. City Chick September 5, 13:52

    Sable, I’m gonna try that tomorrow for breakfast! Sounds delicious! Your spelling was good to me!

    Reply to this comment
  12. Rawtown September 16, 21:32

    The apple butter separated after being put in jars. What caused this?

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  13. Apple butter lady November 5, 17:07

    We do massive amounts (100quarts) of apple butter and sell annually at a local farmers market. It’s prepared the old fashioned way of 8 hours stirring in copper kettle. Some of my jars have seals that have buckled. The others are fine. This has happened three weeks after we have made it. What could cause this ?

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