As a young girl, I remember spending hours with my mother learning how to can and freeze from the garden. One of these memories revolves around apple butter. Father would bring home bushels of apples – yes, bushels – which we would then turn into applesauce, apple pie filling…..and apple butter.
Eating apple butter was one of my favorite pastimes. Making apple butter conjures memories of standing and stirring – continuously – a huge pot of apples for what seemed like hours. This, of course, came after peeling, coring, and slicing apples into a huge bucket filled with salt water. I still have my mother’s apple slicer/peeler/corer. She would attach that machine to a counter top, and we spent the next few hours with our hands immersed in salt water and apples. The concept was great: this machine peeled (mostly) and cored (mostly) and sliced (mostly), saving us time 🙂
After seeing apple butter in the grocery store, I was lured into making my own, using the modern convenience of a slow cooker. I still had to peel, core, and slice the apples, but I did not have bushels of apples facing me… only 6 pounds….and 6 pounds is actually doable!
Apple butter should not be relegated to being used only on wholegrain toast or English muffins. Try it on pancakes, waffles, oatmeal……or try it as a dip with fresh veggies!
Best I can tell, this recipe should yield 4-5 pints, but I confess we taste-tested – often – during the day while it was cooking….and even after it had finished cooking.
Also, mix up the variety of apples. I spoke with a couple who still makes apple butter in a huge – I mean HUGE – cauldron with a wooden paddle to stir constantly while cooking over a wood fire. They advised using half tart and half sweet apples, at least two varieties per batch. In this first batch I used approximately 2 lbs of Honey Crisp, 2 lbs of Granny Smith, and 2 lbs of Fuji apples.
This recipe can cook all night, waking the household to aroma of apple butter. I made this during the day which is why we were able to snack on it throughout the day, reducing the final amount of apple butter produced.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
- 6 pounds of apples
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 TBL ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Fill the largest bowl in your kitchen with water, then add about a teaspoon of salt. Wash, peel, core, and finely slice the apples, adding them to the salted water and swishing them around with your hand until all apples have been added to the water. The salted water will keep your apples from turning dark until you are ready to begin cooking.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
- Thoroughly drain the apple slices and add them to the slow cooker.
- Pour the sugar and spice mixture over the apple slices, tossing thoroughly to coat all slices.
- Cook in the slow cooker on low for approximately 10 hours, stirring periodically to avoid sticking.
- Let cook until the mixture has thickened and turned brown.
- Uncover and let the mixture continue cooking on low for approximately two hours.
- At this point I used a whisk to make a more even consistency. Using an immersion blender would work as well.
- I froze our apple butter into 1/2 cup containers, but the next time I will preserve in jars.
- To preserve in jars, carefully ladle the apple butter into your jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Using a flexible spatula, gently press between the apple butter and the jar to release any air bubbles. Wipe the rims clean with white vinegar and seal. Then follow the instructions on your pressure cooker for canning and preserving……assuming you don’t eat it all in one sitting. . . .After all, a spoon is a great serving utensil. My husband and I had to force ourselves away from the apple butter – that’s why I stuffed it in the freezer so quickly.Enjoy!