top of page

Cardamom - Makes a great addition to American fruit butters

New American Apple Butter with Cardamom and Cinnamon

Fernando & Marlene Divina, @divinAmerica

This quick to prepare tree-to-table spread is enlivened by the addition of our planet’s third most expensive spice - cardamom. While its origins are rooted in (South) Asia, the majority of cardamom production today is borne from jungled fincas cloaked in the the cool clouds and humid mountains of Guatemala. Long a savory and sweet flavoring for Asian, Middle Eastern, and European cuisines, this cousin to ginger is a natural and excellent partner to ripe fruit, decadent pastries, and simple concoctions of rice and cream as a pudding. This season’s butter was made with Gravenstien apples that combine to create a voluptuous texture. A blend of tart apples including in part some lady apples or crab apples works well incorporated into the recipe.

Makes about 5 - 6 pints

7 to 8 pounds apples

1 quart unfiltered, natural apple cider

2 cups brown sugar

1 tablespoon cardamom, ground

2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

¼ teaspoon salt

Wash the apples, drain, remove stems, and cut the apples into 8 - 10 pieces. Use the entire core, seeds, and skin for this step. Place the processed apples in a heavy bottom kettle large enough to hold the apples.

Measure the cider into he apples. Over medium-low flame, cook covered, stirring often, and giving the entire pot a quarter turn from time to time, cook the apples until soft. This may take 20 minutes to 40 minutes deepening on the size of your pot. The flesh of the apples need to be soft enough to pass through a sieve.

Using a food mill and or a mesh strainer with a non-metal scrapper, rub the apple mixture through the implement and discard the solids.

Place the strained apple pulp into a clean, heavy pot and measure the sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, lemon zest, and salt into the pulp. Over medium heat, stirring and covered, cook the mixture until it is thickened, that is, holds a mound when lifted with a metal teaspoon.

At this juncture, ladle into a non-metal container, cool completely, label, date, and freeze or refrigerate. This sauce will hold in the refrigerator for at least 10 days covered tightly. Frozen, it will hold through to the next season.

Special note: There are excellent resources available to obtain the full process for safe canning and food preservation from universities across the nation. One such university publication can be acquired at Washington State University Extension, or requested via email at

To preserve by canning:

While your yield will vary depending on the apples, ripeness, cider, and cooking pot size among other factors, have six, widemouthed, pint jars, lids, and rings at the ready (boiled/sanitized and hot per USDA recommendations) prior to preparing the apple butter. Once the sauce is prepared, proceed as follows:

Insert a jar funnel and ladle the sauce to within ½ inch of the tops of each of the jars. Have a container ready to store the fractional remainder of sauce in case you find you have less than a pint remaining after filling your jars.

Bring your canning assembly - pot, water, jar lift strainer, to a boil. Have jar tongs and cooling rack at hand and ready to accommodate the cooling jars.

Wipe the lips of the jars with clean toweling moistened with hot water to assure a good lid seal. Cover the jars with sanitized lids then screw the rings to just taught. Don’t over tighten the rings.

Submerge the jars with at least one-inch of water overhead. Cover and bring the assembly to a boil.

Once boiling begins, set your timer to 20 minutes for 1ft to 1000ft elevation adding five minutes up to 6000ft elevation.

Cool completely for 12-24 hours. Remove rings and check lids for propper vacuum seal. Jars with flast, metal lids are sealed if:

The lid has popped down in the center (if it was raised in a dimple after seal time)

The lid remains sealds when pressed down.

Tapping the center of the lid with a metal spoon returns a clear, ringing sound.

Replace lids and reprocess as prescribed above or place in refrigerator to store.

Author notes:

In the fall of 1991, as had become a ritual of a sort, we took to our library for recipes by our favorite authors of the time. Jeremiah Tower, a force in shaping regional American cookery was an important influence on how we approached our own Cascadian menu offerings in those formative years. Through Tower’s work we were introduced to authors Richard Olney who’s cookbooks and articles were among the few concise works in the English on regional French cookery and who was assisted by the exemplary skill of cook and author Nora Carey. Decades of reference to her own cookbook, Perfect Preserves, 1990 Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, we have found a lifetime of inspiration to create among our most treasured family dishes.

Further reading:

Meet the Farmer Shaking up the Guatemalan Cardamom Trade, Saveur Magazine November 28, 2018 by Max Falkowitz

Slow Food Ark of Taste

11 views0 comments


bottom of page