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Slow Cooker Apple Butter

October 15th, 2010

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Last weekend, we stopped at an orchard just outside of Belleville to pick up some apples and other yummy fall goodies. We packed 25lbs of assorted apples, including these delicious Russets, and a bushel of “B-quality” McIntoshes, for baking and saucing.

I’ve been really getting into the canning this summer. I’m in love with the idea of knowing exactly where my food comes from, even during the darkest days of winter. And I love apples. All kinds of apples. Especially with cinnamon and nutmeg.

One of my preserving books, Canning for a New Generation, suggested making Apple Butter in a slow cooker, rather than the traditional method of slowly simmering and stirring for a good part of a day. So, before work on Tuesday, I decided to give it a whirl.

Here’s my version of the recipe, taste-tested and enjoyed by my coworkers, Sandra, and Cooper and Jackson.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
You’ll need some basic equipment for this recipe. If you’ve never canned before, take a look at one of the many online tutorials for safe canning, or pick up a good book. Of course, you don’t have to can this recipe at all. Apple butter freezes well, and also keeps in the fridge for a few weeks.

Equipment:

  • Food mill – I picked mine up at WalMart for about $30, and it’s a nice Italian stainless steel model. Look for one with a variety of grates. For apple butter, you’ll want the finest option.
  • Immersion (hand) blender – Just a basic one will do; apple puree is soft already.
  • Slow cooker with low setting. Standard size is perfect.
  • Big pasta or sauce pot
  • For canning, 6-8 half-pint jars, lids, and bands, or fewer pint jars. Yield will vary based on your apple variety. Also, a canning pot, rack, funnel, lid lifter, jar lifter, or whatever other gadgets you’d like to use.

Ingredients:

  • 6 pounds of a variety of apple types, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks. I find it works best to get one of those apple-corers, then cut the resulting slices in half.
  • 2 cups apple cider; use the real stuff, it’ll taste amazing.
  • sugar
  • ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. I really like the extra tang from freshly grated nutmeg, but that’s up to you.

In your large pot, put the apples, apple cider, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and stir often, reducing the heat to keep a boil without scorching until the apples are completely softened, about 20-30 minutes depending on variety. The mixture will look like apple sauce with some more defined bits, where you’ve used firmer apples. As long as they’re quite soft, it’s ready for the next step.

Working in batches, run the mixture through your food mill to separate the skins and any remaining seeds that found their way in. Measure the pureed apple when finished. I had 10 cups, but your yield will vary based on a lot of factors.

Put the pulp into the slow cooker and add seasonings as follows, or to taste:

  • 3 Tablespoons cinnamon – I love the taste of cinnamon, this makes an intense apple butter that’s like the best pie filling. Feel free to reduce.
  • 1.5 teaspoons allspice
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground nutmeg

For sugar, 2 tablespoons per cup of puree is recommended. For 10 cups of puree, I used a cup and a half of sugar.

Now’s the time to use that immersion blender to make the puree as smooth as possible. Cook on lowest setting with the lid propped slightly ajar for 9 to 12 hours, stirring if you can. I let it go all day when I was work, and just gave it a good stir when I got home about 10 hours later.

If you’ll be canning the butter, move it to a clean stock pot and bring to a boil, then fill your jars as indicated, leaving a half inch of headspace at the top. Process for 10 minutes.

10 cups of puree, in my case, made 7 half-pints of Apple Butter. Delicious!

Note: If you haven’t canned before, pick up a book or read online for safe methods. It’s not hard, but you want to be clean as possible and make sure to adequately process your jars.

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3 Responses to “Slow Cooker Apple Butter”

  1. Pipes Says:

    Thank you! I went to my mom’s house and stole her food mill yesterday (well, “borrowed” indefinitely with permission) and will try this out next week when I’m not obsessed with finishing my monkey socks.

    Also – did you SEE how the new Ravelry group I made for you exploded overnight?!? You have 50 fans there now! Woo-hoo. 🙂

    http://www.ravelry.com/groups/indigirl-designs

    I love how international it is! There are people from New Zealand, Tennessee, the Netherlands, Sierra Nevada, Fort Worth… so cool to talk with folks from around the world knitting your patterns. Now I just have to figure out how to do a Watershed knit-along…

  2. Robert Wilson Says:

    thanks for the post

  3. Carrie Says:

    This sounds great! A friend of mine has a bumper apple crop from his trees this year. So I’m hoping to be on the receiving end of a bushel. I’ll definitely try this.

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