This fall, we're tackling a little apple butter project. The goal? Make 75 jars of apple butter by October 17! The reason? Our very good friends are getting married 10/17, and their wedding guests will be receiving jars of apple butter as their party favors. Awesome, right? We're psyched. I'll be sure to post pictures of the apple butter all dressed up for the wedding, but you don't need that right now. What you DO need is the recipe for making apple butter, because apples are in season, and there is no better time then right now to make delicious, spicy, apple butter that you can process in a hot water bath and have for a full year. Our apple butter is a big hit over the holidays, and David's grandmother requests a jar every time we visit her.
I make this apple butter in my crock pot. It takes almost 24 hours from start to finish, but it's worth it and the butter practically makes itself. I recommend having an immersion blender on hand to smooth the butter out at the end, but you could probably give it a quick whirl in your blender or just whisk it to break up the chunks of apple.
Recipe: Spiced Apple ButterYields 7 half-pint jars
- a 5-quart crock pot
- approx. 10-15 apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks or wedges (I like to mix apple types, such as Macs and Cortlands, or Gravensteins and Lady Golds.)
- 2 cups of sugar (I use white, but plan on testing out substituting 1 cup of brown sugar in the future)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves, optional*
- 1/2-1 tsp nutmeg, optional*
- juice of one lemon
*These spices give the apple butter a warmer, more grown up, spicy flavor. I do not like the taste of cloves in many recipes, but I find it's undetectable by my taste buds as CLOVES in this recipe.
Toss apples into crock pot, filling generously to the top. Feel free to stuff it full! Sprinkle sugar, water, cinnamon, (and cloves or nutmeg, or both), and lemon over apples. Cover crock pot and cook on HIGH for one hour. Then turn your crock pot on to LOW, and let cook for approx. 20-24 hours, stirring occasionally, but making sure it doesn't burn (like the last batch I made). Cook until the butter is thick and a dark rusty brown color. Blend with your immersion blender directly in the crock pot, to smooth out the butter. It should be THICK! If it has an applesauce consistency, keep going.
Process the apple butter with a short processing time (5 minutes in the hot water bath). For more information on how to properly preserve using a hot water bath, I encourage you to visit the Ball's Fresh Preserving site.
A NOTE ON COOKING THE APPLE BUTTER: I tend to start this recipe later in the evening, about an hour or two before heading off to bed. That way, I can monitor the first hour of cooking on HIGH, and then set it for LOW for 8 hours. When I get up in the morning (don't worry. I don't always get 8 hours of sleep, it's just the closest!), I check on the apple butter, give it a good stir, and re-set it for another 8 hours. I make sure I'm going to be home close to 8 hours later, as I want to monitor the last few hours of cooking, because burnt apple butter is frustrating and only ends up in the trash. After the second round of 8 hours on LOW, I stir again, blend, and either cook down on LOW for another 2 hours or so, or I turn the crock pot to WARM and keep it that way until I'm ready to process in the hot water bath.
Everyone's crock pot is different so be sure to monitor it the first time you make this recipe and take notes on how long it takes to reach the desired consistency.