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The History of Apple Butter

Apple butter originated in Europe during the Middle Ages in the area once known as Limburg, which encompasses present-day Belgium as well as parts of the Netherlands and Germany. Monasteries in these areas cultivated many fruit trees and began making apple butter as a way of preserving the harvest. When immigrants who later became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch moved to America, they brought apple butter with them, which is how the condiment became so heavily associated with colonial America. (Interestingly, apple butter making became a large social event in colonial America.) Over time, it became a quintessential part of American cuisine. While it is similar to apple sauce, apple butter has a thicker consistency and a deeper flavor due to its much longer cook time. It is traditionally flavored with warming spices like cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Following the Dutch and German traditions, apple butter is usually served on bread with cheese; it is also often served as a topping for various baked goods in America. In some cases, it is also used as a meat glaze. Today, apple butter is most often associated with fall, but is popular in many parts of America and Europe all year round.

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