Christmas Gifts: Getting Started on Canning

I am giving home-canned goodies as gifts this Christmas. I figured I learned a new skill this year, I might as well use it to spend less money on Christmas. I finally landed on three things to put in baskets:

  • apple butter
  • lemon curd
  • cranberry compote

I’ll put a little bag of gingerbread cookies in the baskets too. But there’s not a whole lot of time left between now and Christmas if I’m going to be cooking and canning all this, so I started with the first thing on my list this weekend: apple butter.

But of course I couldn’t leave well enough alone. Why make plain apple butter when I could jazz it up a little? After scouring the internet (and my liquor cabinet) I decided on spiced apple butter with brandy.

You wish you were on my gift-giving list now, don’t you?

Brandied Apple Butter


  • 5 Lb. apples (I used granny smith)
  • 1 1/2 C. apple juice or cider
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2-2 C. brown sugar (depending on the sweetness of the apples. Taste-test this one)
  • 1 1/2 C. brandy

Step 1: peel, core, and chop the apples. If you have one of those spinning apple peelers around this should be easy. I don’t but now it’s on my list, because this task took forever without it.

Step 2: Place the chopped apples into a deep pot. Pour the juice over them and heat to boiling, then turn the heat down and simmer for about 25 minutes. They should go from this…

…to this.

Step 3: If you want a smoother consistency, use an immersion blender to puree the apples. Don’t blend them until they’re runny, stop at smooth. Once the apples are the consistency you want, add the sugar and spices (taste and add more sugar if necessary) and bring it back up to boiling. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, adding the brandy halfway through.

You can refrigerate this for up to two weeks, or you can can it. If you’re canning, do the following while step 3 is happening:

Wash and dry your jars, lids, and rings. Place the jars in your boiling water bath canner and fill it with water until it is at least an inch above the jars.

Bring the water (and jars) to a boil. Place your lids in a small saucepan and cover with water. Heat these just to a simmer.

Once the apple butter is done and your jars are boiling, remove the jars to a towel on the counter. Fill them with apple butter to 1/4″ headspace. Remove any air bubbles, then place the lids on the jars and tighten the rings to fingertip tight.

Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Let them cool on the counter overnight.

This is the first canning recipe that I devised myself. I’m pretty pleased with myself about it, too. It has a great spice to it (the cardamom really comes through) and the brandy adds some depth that it would lack otherwise. I hope these little guys last until Christmas; I only saved a 1/2 pt. for us, and The Renaissance Man has his eye on it!

The Wife

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8 thoughts on “Christmas Gifts: Getting Started on Canning

  1. This recipe looks fabulous. I will definitly give it a try. I would rather PC this one, though, as it might not have a high enough ph for me to BWB. I can crab apple butter in BWB, but the apples I buy tend to be less acidic. The lower acid fruit butters are still safe when canned with BWB. Botulism is NOT a risk, they just are more likely to grow mold- not harmful, just yucky.

    • Interesting! When researching apple butter to develop this recipe, I didn’t come across any that were PC’d. Some recipes had vinegar, though (which sounded yucky). I might PC mine next time, too. You are always a font of canning knowledge, Sheri!

  2. Ok… you just revised my plan for my Thanksgiving dinner with friends! This whole time I was planning on doing little jars of homemade apple butter as guest gifts. However, your addition of brandy sounds fantastic and I think will make the gift even more of a treat! Thanks :-)

    • I’m glad I could up the “wow” factor for you! Let me know how it goes over with your guests!

      Also, these are little 4oz. jars. They are SO cute, and just the right size for gift-giving. I got 12 of these jars out of 1 batch of apple butter (with a little extra for myself).

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