Okay, so I know apple butter isn’t exactly going to blow anyone’s mind, but I love this recipe. It’s easy, almost effortless, tastes delicious, and makes my house smell like everything I love about fall.
Back where I grew up, they have the most awesome annual fall festival. They sell apple butter, apple cider, apple dumplings, homemade bread, cheese, syrup, sorghum molasses…the list goes on. Between the wonderful food smells, the fallen leaves, and the wood smoke, the Philosopher always says he’d like to bottle up the smells there. It’s one of the most homey, comforting smells for both of us.
Anyway, through the many years of living away from home, I’ve tried time and again to find apple butter that tastes like the kind they sell there. I finally gave up and started making it.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it isn’t that hard to make. You start with apples (obviously). I find it’s best to use a variety of apples, especially some sweet ones if I’m not planning to add any sugar. Some of my favorites are: empire, cortland, crispin, honeycrisp, and ginger gold. I usually fill a clean sink with water and a little vinegar to wash the apples and then pull them out and rinse them as I’m ready to cut them.
The best thing about this recipe is that YOU DON’T HAVE TO PEEL THE APPLES!!! Seriously. This all ends with an immersion blender, so I never peel the apples. I also find that it helps to give it that beautiful rich, dark brown color.
Cut up the apples into fairly evenly sized pieces. There are lots of ways to do this (again, my attitude is “whatever works”). However, I’ve recently started cutting up my apples this way and it is so much easier than coring them or cutting them into wedges and cutting the core out of each of them. And yes, I know—this is probably how everyone does it and I’m just super behind the times, but whatever. (I think my sister has been doing this for about ten years.) I was really pumped the other day when I realized how much faster this is, so I thought I’d share.
As you can see from the picture, just slice off each side of the apple (cutting it just beyond the core). Then cut each leftover edge off, leaving the core cut out in a square. Then take the small ends and cut them into thirds. Take the larger ends (that look like half an apple) and cut them into thirds both ways (making nine apple pieces). I love doing it this way because the pieces are much more similarly sized and cook more evenly. It’s especially helpful when trying to make evenly sliced or diced apples. It probably doesn’t really matter that much for this recipe, since they’re getting cooked to absolute mush, but it’s still much faster.
Throw all your cut up apples into the slow cooker, add a cinnamon stick and some water or apple juice. You could probably use apple cider, too, but I’ve never tried that. Play around with any other spices as you want—cloves, ginger, a dash of salt. You can add sugar if you prefer it sweeter, but I would recommend waiting until the end to taste it and then see how much you’d like to add.
Turn the slow cooker on low and let it cook for 12-15 hours. Enjoy some of the most amazing smells known to man filling your house. At the end of that time, check the apples, turn them off, and let them sit until they stop bubbling (you don’t want to burn yourself with splatters of boiling apple as you blend them—not that I’ve ever done that or anything…).
Use an immersion blender to blend to desired consistency, making sure to get the peels in particular. Spoon into jars; if you plan to freeze some jars (that’s what I do), make sure to leave about an inch of room between the apple butter and the lid. Otherwise, you end up with broken glass in your freezer! I’ve never tried canning with this recipe (multiple reasons, but most boil down to laziness) but I would imagine you could with little difficulty. That’s certainly not my specialty, though.
Eat it up. Give it away. Enjoy!
What are your favorite apples to use in apple butter? Do you add any different spices? I’d love to try your version!