The apple is a healthy and versatile fruit that preserves well. Apples have long been cooked to yield apple sauce or apple butter. The main difference between apple butter and applesauce is the cooking time, but there are several other distinctions between them.
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Applesauce may consist of nothing more than apples and water, but other ingredients may also be added. Apple butter is made from apples and spices such as cinnamon and cloves, and has a rich, distinctive flavor. Despite the name, apple butter contains no dairy ingredients.
Applesauce may be prepared quickly. The apples are cooked until they soften and can be pureed or mashed. Apple butter, by contrast, is cooked very slowly until the apples break down, caramelize and thicken. Apple butter may cook for as long as 10 hours.
Applesauce is typically a light golden color, although variations can exist, depending on the variety of apple and added ingredients. Apple butter is a dark caramel color as a result of the much longer cooking time and the spices that are added.
Applesauce is typically pureed or mashed and has a rather liquid consistency. Although applesauce may be very smooth, it usually has some texture. Apple butter is spreadable and has a smooth, thick consistency.
Applesauce may be served as a side dish or used in a variety of recipes, sometimes even as a healthy substitute for cooking oils. Apple butter has a rich flavor and is most often served as a spread for bread or rolls, or as a condiment.