a million or so ten years ago, my Aunt Jane ripped out a recipe of one of my Grandma’s Taste of Home magazines called All Day Apple Butter. Jane was a huge fan of apple butter, and thought that I should make it for her. Personally, I didn’t get her fixation with it. I mean, I didn’t really like apple jelly, so why waste all the effort for apple butter? She insisted that apple-the-jelly and apple-the-butter were two different animals, and I should try it anyway. I laughed, and maybe rolled my eyes because
- I had never made apple butter.
- I had never tasted apple butter.
- I didn’t understand what her big deal was about apple butter.
Then I promptly forgot the whole incident ever happened.
A few weekends ago, I was going through a stack of binders when I happened across my old recipe binder. Being that I automated my recipes a few years ago and purged that binder, I almost tossed it aside. But, for some reason I felt compelled to open said binder. In it was one lone recipe clipping–the one for All Day Apple Butter that my Aunt Jane gave me so many years ago.
I took that, coupled with the fact that I was still up to my ears in freshly picked apples, as a sign that now was the time for me to make apple butter.
Apple butter’s smooth, almost creamy texture, coupled with its intensely spiced apple flavor is nothing short of amazing. It makes a wonderful spread in place of jam on bread, muffins, or toast. Fact: A dollop of apple butter swirled into your morning oatmeal will make your heart sing. The best part? Apple butter is a snap to make in a slow cooker. All I have to say about the matter is–what the heck ever took me so long to make apple butter in the first place?!
Just call me Little Ms. Late-to-the-Party.
Peel, core and chop the apples. Apple butter is a great vehicle for all of those apples that didn’t make the cut for long-term storage.
Pour the granulated sugar and spices into the crock, and stir to fully coat the apples. Be forewarned: apple butter uses a lot of sugar. The sugar is what will gel the butter to a spreading consistency, as it does when making jam without added pectin. You may cut back the sugar if you choose, just know that the apple butter will be an apple sauce, and not an apple spread–still delicious, but definitely not the same. My Official Recommendation is to do what I do–add the full amount of sugar, and then go to your happy place and forget about it.
Put the lid on the crock and cook on HIGH heat for ONE hour. Stir the apple mixture, and pop the lid back on. Reduce the heat to LOW and continue cooking for 9 to 11 hours; stirring occasionally. Go find something fun to do while you are waiting. You have loads of time before you have to do anything to the apple butter. Personally, I went to sleep for the night.
When you have four sons, sleep is highly-coveted recreational activity.
I awoke the next morning to the most delicious apple-cinnamon aroma, which gave me all the motivation I needed to get out of bed. I stirred the apple mixture, then got out my handy-dandy immersion blender to puree it to a smooth texture. You can accomplish the same results by pureeing it in batches in a blender. Or, if you prefer chunks, use a whisk to break up the apples to your desired consistency. To each her own, man!
Leave the crock of apple butter uncovered, and continue to cook on LOW heat for another hour or so before giving it another stir. The apple butter will be fairly thick, but still run off the spoon–like the texture of commercial apple sauce. Don’t worry, the apple butter will thicken as it cools.
Ladle the hot apple butter into plastic freezer jam containers, leaving 1/2-inch of head space, and allow it to cool. Once cool, put a lid on the jars, and pop them in the refrigerator or freezer.
OR–if you are a nut like me and decide that as long as you are going to all the trouble of peeling, coring, and chopping apples in the first place–make a double batch! Then can it according to safe canning methods in a water bath canner.
Home canned goodies make excellent gifts!
Either way, once the pureed apple butter has completely cooled, it should be a spreadable consistency; meaning it should ball up on a spoon and stay put for several seconds when tipped downward.
Now your apple butter is ready to spread on toast, swirl into oatmeal, or spread onto muffins. My boys really like apple butter on corn muffins–it’s a nice, sweet contrast to the corny, crumbly muffin.
Whatever you do, don’t be like me and wait 10 years to make this apple butter!
All Day Apple Butter
Gently adapted from Taste of Home
Makes 4 pints
10-12 medium apples (5 ½-6 lbs.) peeled and chopped
4 C. granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. kosher salt
- Place prepared apples in the crock of a slow cooker.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Pour mixture over apples, stirring to coat.
- Put the lid on the crock, and cook on HIGH for 1 hour.
- Reduce heat to LOW. Continue to cook for 9 to 11 hours, or until mixture has thickened and is dark brown; stirring occasionally.
- At this point, remove cover and puree with an immersion blender, or briskly whisk for a smoother texture; if desired.
- Keep uncovered and continue cooking on LOW for 1 more hour. Mixture should be quite thick, and will further thicken upon cooling.
- Spoon hot apple butter into freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.
- OR for longer term storage, and following proper canning procedures, ladle hot butter into hot prepared canning jars, and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes, or according to manufacturer’s instructions.