Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Recipe one on the website. Here we go.

I probably should have started with recipes many months ago, you know, when we had CSA members relying on us, but that was far too overwhelming. First year farmers with an 8 person CSA, farmer’s market, part-time jobs and time to cook? And take pictures of our tasty meals. And somehow find more time to type them up and put them on here. No, definitely not possible.

But alas, fall is finally upon us and my kitchen is finally up and running in full force again. So here is a delicious seasonal treat. It will be especially useful next year when we can sell ya’ll bushels and bushels of apples if you like, but for now, hit up your local orchard and enjoy!

For all of you who have not yet tried apple butter, you are in for a treat!  Despite common misconceptions, no, apple butter does not have any butter in it.  It is pretty much just super concentrated apple sauce.  You let peeled and diced apples sit in their own juices (with a little sugar and spices) for hours and hours so they break down and begin to caramelize.  Puree, put into containers and you are good to go.  Easy peasy.

I eat apple butter on everything. On toast in the morning (with or without butter). On toast with peanut butter. On any bread product. Stirred into oatmeal. Combined with yogurt (with or without granola and real chunks of apple). On french toast (don’t worry I still use maple syrup). In grilled cheese sandwiches. Added to sauces for that little extra fall something. Served on top of pork chops. I’m serious. It’s good on everything.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Adapted from My Baking Addiction

Takes 12-14 hours (but do not be alarmed, at most only one hour of the 12 is active cooking time)
Makes a little over 5 pints

Although I do store apple butter in pint jars for ease, please understand that this apple butter is absolutely not processed! This means that these lovely five jars you are about to make are absolutely not safe to store on your shelves.  You must store them in a refrigerator or freezer.  I am sure there are actually processed versions of apple butter out there, but this one is oh so simple and who doesn’t love a simple recipe.  If you don’t think you will be able to eat five pints of apple butter in the two months before it goes bad (which I find very hard to believe), throw it in your freezer until it is ready to be used or give it away.  Apple butter makes beautiful gifts.

~10 pounds of apples
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups lightly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly grated if you have it, but I didn’t)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Prep apples:
Here you have two options. Option number one is the easiest, but you need to have peeler corer slicer. This is a pretty common kitchen tool from Pampered Chef. They are always at Goodwill and garage sales. If you have one, just run all the apples through this machine and then toss them into the slow cooker. Set peels and cores aside for composting.
Option number two for those of you who do not own a peeler corer slicer, you will need to peel all of your apples and then dice them. They don’t need to be very small. If you have a standard apple sectioner, this will do the trick. 8-10 pieces of apple per apple is a good size. Set peels and cores aside for composting.
Cook apples:
Ten pounds of peeled and sectioned apples should pretty much fill your slow cooker. Press them down a couple times in need be. Your slow cooker can be very full though. Don’t worry.
Add all sugar and spices to the slow cooker of apples (and more or less according to your preferences). This is a very standard, fall, full-flavored apple butter. Feel free to toss in fun interesting things (ground cloves, lemon peel, orange peel, a pinch or two of cayenne pepper–as with all of cooking, the possibilities are endless). I pour the sugar and spices slowly around the edges so some falls onto the bottom layers of apples, but I’m not sure how much this matters.
Put the lid on your slow cooker. Push down if necessary. The lid will most definitely be pushing down sugar and apples. Set the slow cooker to low and leave it alone for eight hours. I often get this ready just before bed so I can wake up to the next step. A little more or less than eight hours is not a problem.
Puree and reduce:
Remove the lid and turn off the heat. Puree your bubbling, beautiful apples with an immersion blender. If you don’t have one, feel free to do this in batches in the food processor or blender. You could also use a potato masher if you are in dire straights, but I think it would be a major pain. Add the vanilla extract. Turn heat back to low and leave alone for another 2-4 hours. I like a nice thick apple butter so I usually leave mine for four additional hours, but again, this is totally up to you.
Can” those babies:
When the apple butter reaches its desired consistency, ladle it into quart, pint or half-pint jars, bags or other containers. Refrigerate and enjoy during the course of the next two months.

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