Bought a large basket of Cortland apples at a local apple barn last weekend. I made a pie and a small crisp, but that barely made a dent in the the amount of apples I had. Not having a man to tend the fire and stir the pot all day long, I decided to try making apple butter in my slow cooker.
My mistake and how I fixed it
There are lots of recipes for slow cooker apple butter on the web – I used ideas from a couple where I liked the spice combination. I also wanted to make it with no added sugar, using Splenda and Brown Sugar Twin, both of which measure like regular sugar. I have a 3 quart slow cooker and my mistake was using too much spice/sweetener for the amount of apples. My spice recipe included: 2 cups Splenda, 1 cup Brown Sugar Twin, 4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1/2 tsp. salt. I also added 1/2 cup of cider vinegar.
I started with 12 apples, peeled and cored, which filled my slow cooker completely. As I filled it I mixed in the sugar/spice mix and then added the vinegar at the end. Turned the slow cooker on high for 4 hours and went about my business. After 4 hours, the apple volume was 1/2 of what I started with and it was waaaaayyyy too sweet – good thing I had that big basket of apples! I peeled and cored another 12 apples and put them plain into a covered microwave casserole dish with 1/4 cup water. Cooked them covered for 15 minutes until they were the consistency of chunky applesauce and then stirred the hot apples into my apple butter mix in the slow cooker. Cooked the whole mix for another hour on high, then turned it down to low and went to bed.
The next morning, I had a somewhat lumpy mixture that had a good balance of sweet and spice. The sweet/tart apples and the cider vinegar gave it just enough tang. I used my immersion blender to smooth it out right in the crockpot, you could use a blender or food processor. Or you could leave it chunky, I like it both ways.
Now you have to cook it down some – right now you probably have more of an applesauce consistency. I propped the lid of the slow cooker open and cooked on low for another 4 hours. This can take more or less time depending on the the water content of your apples. After 4 hours I turned the slow cooker off and left it to cool while I went out to get some freezer containers.
I found these nice plastic pint Ball freezer jars at Wal-Mart. You could also use freezer bags or can your apple butter. My mix filled 3 jars completely and 1/2 of another. 2 will go in the freezer, the 1/2 filled container is going on some pork we are cooking this evening and we will probably eat the other one in about 2 days – we had it on waffles this morning and it was oh so delicious! (Re: the pork. Click over to Dana’s blog, Mid Life Adventures, to see his delicious recipe for Apple Butter Braised Pork Chops.)
So, if you have a bunch of apples and no time (or man) to tend the pot on the stove or fire in your yard, I can recommend the slow cooker method of making apple butter. Just measure your proportions better than I did!
Want to take a weekend or day trip to Northeast Ohio? I recommend:61st Annual Apple Butter Festival October 10 & 11, 2009 ~ 10 am to 5 pm Century Village 14653 E Park St Burton, OH 44021 (440) 834-1492