apple butter (an english marmalade!)

apple butter
This apple paste, also known as apple butter, was often made in the autumn with a glut of windfall apples. Packed full of sugar, it has a long shelf-life, particularly if kept in the fridge. I realised having made it that it is actually very similar to the Spanish membrillo or Italian cotognata, which are made with quinces. With addition of lemon peel it is very like Portuguese marmelada.

Either way it is perfect to serve with cheese or just spread onto bread and butter for a fruity sandwich. I have also been using instead of raspberry jam as a filling in a traditional Victoria sponge cake.

Skill level: Easy

2 Granny Smith apples
juice and peel of 1 lemon
200g sugar


  1. Juice the lemon. Scrape out the inside of the lemon and remove as much of the fruit flesh as possible. Cut into quarters and remove as much of the white pith as possible. Cut into strips.
  2. Peel and core the apples. Cut into chunks and sprinkle with lemon juice.
  3. Tip the apples and juice into a large saucepan, together with the sugar, lemon peel and enough water to cover the fruit.
  4. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if it looks as if the fruit is catching. The mixture should be thick and a deep golden brown colour; most of the liquid having evaporated. You'll know when it is ready because the apples will have started to break down and it will look jammy. Set aside to cool before blending in a food processor into a fine paste.
  5. Turn the paste out into a square cake tin, lined with clingfilm. Spread evenly with a spatula.
  6. Top the paste with another layer of clingfilm. Insert another cake tin (of the same size) inside the first tin. Press down hard. Put a couple of heavy weights or tins on top to keep the paste weighted down.
  7. Leave for at least 24 hours in a cool place.
  8. Turn out onto a chopping board and cut into cubes.
  9. Alternatively, if you don't want the faff - transfer the paste into sterilised jam jars and store in the fridge.


  • Slice cheese such as gruyere or manchego to the same size as the cubes of apple paste and spear with a cocktail stick for a variation of the perfect party food.


o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Nice one.

Anonymous said...

Sounds lovely.
Could you tell us how long it would keep in the fridge in the form of your slice please?
Could you tell us how long it would keep in as a jam in jars please?

Anonymous said...

I love this idea. American "apple butters" are wonderful but so heavily spiced they feel like Christmas. I like how this would keep the apple flavour pure and light. I'm going to make it with the windfalls from a friend. Also would just be nice in an array of jam tarts. And thanks for the low-faff option-- gonna take you up on that one.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. American "apple butter" which I sometimes make is lovely but so heavily spiced it can give a Christmas feel. I like the idea of a purer, lighter apple flavour. Going to make this with windfalls from a friend's garden. And, taking you up on the low-faff option, I think this would be really nice in a jam tart, or lining the bottom of a tart, or just being creative with as an all-round apple preserve.