I have a confession. My children sometimes sneak and eat jelly with a spoon straight from those little packets at diners while we wait for our food to arrive. You know the ones I'm talking about - those little jelly and jam packages that are all stacked up in the plastic, black caddies sitting atop the tables at some casual joints. Yes, those. With a spoon. Plain. Into their mouths.
Well, this practice has led to them now loving apple butter since apple butter is often one of the selections in the black table-top caddy. With an abundance of apples on hand recently, I set out to make apple butter at home in my slow cooker.
I used to make apple butter during my teenage years with my grandmother, so I knew the basics. After researching some various recipes online recently, I came up with something that I am now simply in love with. I've made two batches so far and plan to make up a bunch more once it's closer to the holidays for gift-giving to family and friends.
Since this recipe takes around eleven hours of cooking time in the slow cooker, I've found that it's easiest to cook the apples overnight. I get things going before going to bed and before lunchtime the following day, I've got apple butter made.
And, oh, the aromas that will fill your house are just intoxicating. You'll be tempted to grab a spoon and dive into the slow-cooked apples before you even blend them up. (Confessions Number Two: I did just that.)
6 pounds apples (peeled, cored and diced/sliced thin)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon good-quality vanilla extract
Place diced/sliced apples in the slow cooker along with the other ingredients - except for the vanilla. Cook on low for ten hours - stirring a couple of times throughout the cooking process.
After ten hours, stir in vanilla. Blend apple mixture until completely smooth using an immersion blender. (You can, also, puree in a traditional blender in batches, then return pureed apples back to the slow cooker.)
Continue to cook the apple butter uncovered for another hour to allow it to thicken slightly.
Allow to cool, then spoon into containers. I prefer small canning jars if I'm just keeping it in the fridge, but I recommend air-tight plastic containers for freezing.
Things to Note:
1. I am not a canner, so I can't help you out with advice on canning the apple butter once made.
2. My slow cooker is a six-quart one and it was almost full of apples (prior to cooking) for each batch following the recipe above.
3. I utilize a combination of Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples when making this recipe. I highly recommended using more than one variety. A combination of tart and sweet works best.
4. The apple butter can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or stored in the freezer for up to 2 - 3 months - based on my research.
5. The sugar measurements listed within the recipe are simply where I start from. The amount of sugar you'll need will vary depending upon the sweetness of your apples. You can add in more sugar if needed once the apples have cooked and you taste to see where the sweetness level is.
6. Six pounds of apples means the weight prior to peeling, coring and dicing.
7. Apple butter can be spread on toast, biscuits or muffins. It can be used as an ice cream topping or pancake topping. It pairs beautifully with roasted pork. And, makes a great topping for baked brie cheese served with crackers.
8. This recipe will yield 3 - 4 pints worth of apple butter.