This story is a component of the feature “Seasons of Preserves: Apple Butter,” which is part of a four-part series on preserving fruit at home called “L.A. in a Jar.”
The “plate test” is a great way to know when your fruit preserve is at the right consistency. However, I still think it’s not necessary for making apple butter. Rather, you’ll judge the doneness of the apple butter by its texture in the pan: When you stir it and the thin, watery liquid no longer separates from the smooth pulp, it’s done. See the Master Apple Butter recipe for a more detailed description.