In recent years, I have avoided making apple butter. My last memory of it involved thinking, “Boy, this just tastes like spiced applesauce.” So I didn’t bother with it for a couple of years. And then this year, a friend asked me to make her some and I had an overload of apples. So, I figured I may as well give it another shot. Worst case scenario, I was planning to make my girlfriend take the entire batch of apple butter.
Apple butter is really great on homemade toasted bread or added to plain yogurt or oatmeal. I also love it on my whole grain waffles with toasted pecans and a little whipped cream. A friend told me just today about making cinnamon rolls with apple butter as the filling. I’m going to give that one a shot in the very near future, because it sounds like the perfect fall treat.
So this time around, I did a few things differently. First, I did not puree the butter like a lot of recipes call to do. Instead, I chopped the peeled apples up at the beginning using a food processor – almost to a chunky applesauce consistency, but not quite. If you don’t have a food processor, you can just put the quartered apples into the crock pot and use an immersion blender on them once they are soft and mushy. Or just run it through a blender or food mill and you’ll end up with a smoother consistency.
I also played with the liquid on this recipe. Instead of using water as the liquid, I made one batch using apple cider and a second batch using hard apple cider. Honestly – they really didn’t taste much different. I was honestly hoping that the trendy hard apple cider version would be amazingly better than the old fashioned version, but not so much. But either one of them provides a little more flavor than using plain old water.
I did this recipe in the crock pot. I really love this approach. It’s pretty hands off. You can stir it periodically, but really, you just let it do it’s job until the end when you jar and can it. The main trick with the crock pot approach is to leave your wooden spoon on the edge of the crock with the lid on so that the lid is cracked open for most of the cooking time.
You’ll know that the apple butter is done when the liquid is mostly gone. You should take a little bit and put it on a spoon or plate – let it cool a couple minutes and check to see if any liquid pools at the edges of the butter. Once there is no liquid, then the butter is done.
- 5 pounds of peeled, cored and quartered apples
- 2 cups of apple cider, either hard or not
- 3 cups of sugar – white or brown is fine
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- Using a food processor, chop the apples into small pieces, almost pureed
- Add all ingredients to the crock pot and stir.
- Cover crock pot and cook on high for one hour.
- Turn crock pot to low and crack the lid with a wooden spoon to keep the lid slightly open. Cook on low for 8-11 hours. Stir occasionally, more towards the end.
- Once the butter has thickened, test it for consistency. Place a small mound on a spoon and let it cool for a couple minutes. If, after two minutes, no liquid has escaped the edges, the butter is done.
- The butter can be frozen in jars – leave enough space for expansion. Or it can be processed in a boiling water bath – leave 1/4 inch headspace and process for 10 minutes.