How to Fix Apple Butter That Is Too Thick

Nothing is more disappointing than having any type of preserves that doesn’t come out just right. I recently made a batch of apple butter that turned out extremely thick. The great thing is that it was easy to thin out.

If your apple butter is too thick, it can be thinned by adding some additional applesauce, a small amount at a time, until the right consistency is achieved.

The rest of the article will answer a few common apple butter questions and provide my “secret” recipe for apple butter that is the perfect thickness.

How Thick Should Apple Butter Be?

Apple butter should be very thick and dark brown, and it should cling to a spoon when inverted and not immediately fall off.

Reasons My Apple Butter Might Be Too Thick

The main reason for apple butter that is too thick would be overcooking. If it is cooked too long and too much liquid has evaporated, it can be corrected by adding small amounts of applesauce at the time until the desired consistency is achieved.

Another reason my apple butter might become too thick is that I added too much of a thickener such as cornstarch in an effort to speed up the process and to shorten the cooking time.

How Do I Know When Apple Butter Is Ready?

There are at least two tests to determine when apple butter is thick enough. They are:

  1. When you scoop a spoonful of the apple butter, it stays mounded on the spoon and does no flatten out.
  2. Scoop a spoonful of the apple butter onto a plate. If no liquid runs from the edges of the mound, the apple butter has reached the right consistency.

Will Apple Butter Thicken as It Cools?

Apple butter will thicken as it cools, so even if it is not quite thick enough at the end of the cooking process, it will continue to thicken as it cools down.

Can You Overcook Apple Butter?

Apple butter can be overcooked, but it would be very difficult to do in a crockpot. The desired texture should be very thick and very dark brown. But, if overcooked, it could burn and at that point cannot be recovered or corrected. It is the same method used when making a roux with oil and flour, the correct final product is a point where is it a deep, dark brown just before it burns.

By the way, if you ever have the opposite problem, be sure to bookmark my article called How to Thicken Apple Butter | The 6 Best Ways.

Can You Re-Process Apple Butter?

If the apple butter doesn’t seal properly after the boiling water bath process, the jars can be re-processed by removing the lids and rings, cleaning the jar rims and threads, and adding new rings that have been washed and dropped into boiling water. The jars can be placed back into the boiling water bath and re-processed for an additional 10 minutes.

Jelly Grandma’s “Perfect Thickness” Apple Butter Recipe

A Crockpot With Applesauce Next to It
My trusty crockpot!

Here is my recipe for crockpot apple butter using unsweetened applesauce. This recipe saves time by not having to process the apples to make the applesauce. Just be sure to use applesauce that contains no additives.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1½ cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Apple Cider
  • 3 tablespoons Lemon Juice (or the juice from 1 lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cloves1 teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
Ingredients for Making Apple Butter
Here are the ingredients, ready to go!

Directions:

  1. Preheat the crockpot on high.
  2. Combine all ingredients well and pour into the preheated crockpot.
  3. Cook on high for 6 hours.
  4. After 3 hours, set the crockpot lid at an angle so that evaporation can occur.
  5. Near the end of the 6-hour period, wash canning jars, lids, and rings, and sterilize them. Add water to boiling water bath pot to slightly over half full and bring water to a full rolling boil.
  6. Check apple butter. If still watery, cook for an extra 30 minutes to 1 hour with lid removed. If thickened, go ahead and process in a boiling water bath.
  7. Fill the canning jars with apple butter, leaving a 1-inch headspace. Clean jar rims with a clean, damp cloth and affix lids and rings.
  8. Place the jars into the boiling water bath pot and process for 10 minutes, making sure there is sufficient water in the pot to cover the tops of the jars by 2 inches.
  9. At the end of 10 minutes, remove jars to a prepared area where they can sit, undisturbed for at least 24 hours.
  10. After 24 hours, check lids to be sure there is a good seal, wash and dry the jars, and store until needed.
  11. Makes approximately five 8-ounce jars.
A Crockpot With Apple Butter Ingredients in It
The ingredients are in!
A Crockpot Cooking Apple Butter With Utensils Nearby on the Counter
Cookin’ on the counter, utensils at the ready.

The Finished Product!

Three Canned Jars on Homemade Apple Butter
My homemade apple butter cooling on the counter.

What Apple Varieties Make the Best Apple Butter?

The best apple butter is made by choosing softer and sweeter apples like Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, or Honeycrisp. Mix 2 to 3 varieties together to make the most flavorful apple butter.

How Do You Serve Apple Butter?

While apple butter is primarily served as a spread on biscuits, rolls, toast, and muffins, it makes a tasty dip for the meats, cheeses, fruits, and other treats found on a charcuterie board. Many people like to spread it on pancakes and waffles, and combined with a few other ingredients, it makes a fantastic marinade for poultry, beef, pork, and seafood.

What Is the Best Way to Store Apple Butter?

The best way to store unopened canned apple butter so that it remains good for the maximum amount of time is under the following conditions:

  • In a cool area away from any heat source with no major fluctuations in temperature.
  • In a dry area not subject to excessive humidity.
  • In a dark cabinet or pantry with little or no exposure to natural or artificial light.
  • After opening, apple butter is better and lasts longer when stored in the refrigerator.

Can I Make Sugar-Free Apple Butter?

For sugar-free apple butter, simply omit the sugar and choose the sweetest apples you can find, or use one of the better sugar substitutes such as the Truvia Baking Blend or an alternative sweetener like honey.

How Do I Make Sure My Sugar-Free Apple Butter Thickens?

Apple butter should thicken whether it is sweetened or whether it is sugar-free, when cooked slowly with the lid to the pot removed or at least at an angle to allow evaporation.

However, suppose it still doesn’t reach the desired consistency. In that case, you can make a slurry by combining a tablespoon of cornstarch or a tablespoon of tapioca starch with a tablespoon of water and adding that to the apple butter as a thickener. Neither cornstarch nor tapioca starch will affect the taste of the apple butter.

What Exactly Is Apple Butter?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, apple butter is “a thick brown spread made by cooking apples with sugar and spices usually in cider.” It has the consistency of applesauce which has been cooked until it is thicker and has turned a dark brown. 

What’s the Difference Between Apple Butter and Applesauce?

Apple butter is applesauce that has been cooked down low to reduce the amount of liquid and to caramelize the sugars that are naturally occurring in the apples so that it becomes a rich, brown spread that is a much thicker version of applesauce.

Final Thoughts

I did not grow up making or eating apple butter. In fact, I had never heard of apple butter until a young woman from Kentucky became a member of my family by marriage. Having been born and raised in Mississippi which is not known for growing apples, I have never had fresh apples in sufficient quantities to consider either making apple jelly or trying my hand at other methods of canning or preserving apples. To my surprise, I discovered that apple butter is a common thing in other parts of the U.S.

Now, I love making the stuff and my family can’t get enough of it. I hope this article has helped you make the perfect batch! Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss 8 Ways to Thicken Gravy Like A Pro.

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page.

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