As I’ve mentioned before, I have a lot of apples that I need to use this season. After making cupcakes and crisps, donuts and pork chops, cider and spiked cider, I needed to branch out a bit. So, apple butter it was. Apple butter, to me, has such an allure to it. It’s one of those items that screams autumnal goodness, and when you buy it in those little jars from artisanal shops it seems to have the perfect balance of chic and rustic. But when you buy it in those little jars from artisanal shops it also has a price tag that makes me cringe.
The beauty of making apple butter from scratch is how simple it is. Honestly. You chop up some apples and put them in the slow cooker for 12 or 13 hours. Then you puree it. Seriously. That’s it. I’m almost ashamed to post it on here for how easy it is. But I can’t keep this secret to myself. Especially when it tastes even better than what you get in those fancy little jars. When you have total control over the sweetness and spices, you know it’s going to turn out exactly to your liking.
If you’re ambitious, you can even can it — or “jar” it, as my husband insists — and give it as gifts. Just put the hot apple butter into jars straight out of the dishwasher, cap them, and boil them for 5-10 minutes, depending on your altitude. Please get more in depth instructions than this if you’re planning on doing so, as I don’t want to be responsible for giving anyone botulism, but this really is the crux of canning.
Anyway, go ahead and make this apple butter. It’s perfect on biscuits, or english muffins, or pork chops, or a spoon. There are few things easier to do, and few things that taste so much like you’ve been slaving away for hours. And if you want to give it as a gift, I promise not to tell anybody how easy it was!
Yields about 6 pints (or 12 8 oz jars)
- Apples, mixture of varieties (for this batch, I used Stayman Winesap, Jonagold, Pink Lady, and Mutsu): enough to fill crockpot
- Sugar (you can use either white or brown; for this batch, I used white) (maple syrup would likely work too, but I haven’t tried it)
- Roughly chop enough apples, skin on, to fill a 6qt slow cooker.
- Add about 1/8 cup sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp nutmeg. Stir to coat.
- Set the slow cooker on low for 12-13 hours, stirring once or twice throughout the cooking process.
- After about 11 or 12 hours, the apples will be very soft and brownish in color. Using an immersion blender, puree the apples until smooth. Alternatively, puree in a food processor or blender in batches, then return to the slow cooker. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
- Cook for another hour or two; if it is too watery, you can leave the lid ajar to reduce the apple butter more.