Apple butter is one of the best things that you can make with apples. It's sweet and a little spicy, with an intense apple flavor. I love it on toast, and also in recipes (bbq sauce and apple stack cake recipes coming soon).To me, fall is not complete without making a batch of apple butter - enough for a jar for the fridge, and a few jars for the pantry.
It's funny, though, because I always believed that apple butter was a common thing (like jam or jelly), but my husband tells me that this isn't so. When we were first married, I was surprised to find out that he had never heard of this ambrosia in a jar. I've always found this odd, because my hubby is from Michigan, and the last I heard, they grow tons of apples in Michigan. So, I don't know, maybe it is a family thing, or maybe it is more common where I grew up in the nothern Appalachians of Pennsylvania. At any rate, I believe that anyone who has never tried apple butter, needs to make some asap, while fall apples are beautiful and plentiful.
Someone who has never had apple butter might think that is contains some actual butter, but this isn't the case. It's really just a thicker, more cooked version of applesauce, spiced with cinnamon and cloves. As the apples cook, the sugars in them caramelize and take on a lovely brown color. As much of the water is cooked out of the apples, the sauce turns to "butter", and will hold it's shape on a spoon. While this process typically requires stirring for many hours over a big, hot kettle, I prefer to do it the easy way - in my slow cooker.
With this recipe, you could just throw all of the ingredients into the slow cooker all at once, and let the slow cooker do it's work overnight. I prefer to do it in the day, however, so that I can give it a stir occasionally, and taste for sugar and spices. Use any type of apples that you like, but I like to use a mix of different apples when I can. Remember, too, that the tarter the apples, the more sugar you will most likely need to add.
You can store this in the refrigerator for several months, or you can freeze it. If you would like to can this apple butter, make sure you follow proper water bath canning procedures. Allow 1/4" of headspace in the jars, and process for 10 minutes. For learning to can in a waterbath, I recommend you check out Ball Fresh Preserving and The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
6 pounds apples, peeled, chopped, seeds removed
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Place all of the chopped apples in the slow cooker with 1 1/2 cups water (about 1-inch of water on the bottom of the slow cooker).
2. Stir in the granulated sugar and the apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
3. Set the slow cooker to low, and allow to cook until the apples are the consistency of apple sauce. Stir everything well, and add the rest of the ingredients. Allow the apple butter to cook down and become thick. Check it every couple of hours to make sure that it isn't scorching, and also to taste for sugar and spices. If it needs more sugar or more spices, just stir it in.
4. When the apple butter is nicely browned (this will take at least 8 hours), give it a good whisk, or use an immersion blender to make it smooth. If it needs to thicken more (a dollop should hold its shape on a spoon), remove the lid of the slow cooker, and turn to high temperature. Allow to cook until it reaches the desired consistency.
5. Can the apple butter, or cool it and immediately store in the refrigerator or freezer.
Shared at The Country Cook - Weekend Potluck