Yesterday a group of friends and I went to the Apple Butter Festival at Fenner Nature Center (Lansing, MI). It was an interesting experience. I had no idea apple butter was made by essentially reducing down apples. I thought there was butter somehow incorporated into the recipe. Instead the butter refers to its thick, buttery consistency, its spreadable nature.
To make apple butter you simply cook down apples, which have been peeled, cored and sliced, along with some apple cider past the point of apple sauce. It can be sweetened or not. The gentleman who was manning the pot indicated you reduce it down 5:1. He said that their pot takes about 5 hours to cook down. The process of slow cooking allows the sugar in the apples to caramelize giving apple butter its distinctive deep brown color. When it is finished it is seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
I found an easy recipe at AllRecipes.com. It lists some great tips in the review section and there are several variations on this site as well.