I met a family once who planned their annual reunion around apple butter.
I spent the weekend with this clan – about 40 strong- who peeled hundreds of apples on Friday, and then Saturday slowly cooked the apples down over a huge, antique copper pot. They took turns stirring the apples with a wooden spoon that looked like a paddle.
It was a crisp fall day and I sat at watched steam rise from the pot and the aroma of a campfire, apples, cinnamon and cloves fill the air (I was writing a story about their unique tradition). When the apples had melted into a thick butter-like consistency, they canned the mixture into the night. When that was done, they made a mega batch of biscuits and used the warm biscuits to scrape up the last of the apple butter that still glazed the inside of the pot.
I can’t eat an apple butter stuffed biscuit without thinking of them. I had to stop this photo shoot to gobble up a biscuit.
I love apple season and autumn means the apples are ripe from the orchards to the farmers markets and the grocery stores. Now, as much as I enjoy apple butter, I don’t have time to make it from scratch so I whip up a slow cooker version.
You have to peel about 10-12 apples, but if you have an apple peeler, then it’s quick. I use a mix of Granny Smith and red apples for this.
You can make a variation on this recipe by adding ½ teaspoon or ¼ teaspoon of extract once the mixture has been cooked. For example, split the batch in half or thirds and add vanilla extract, or maple or rum (those are my favorites). It’s just a slight twist on the same recipe. I always start with ¼ teaspoon and then double it if I don’t think it’s changed the flavor enough.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Makes about 1 1/2 pints
7 cups of peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples
1 ½ cups peeled and sliced red apples (about 2 red apples)
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (use less or omit if you don’t like cloves because you can taste it)
1/3 cup apple juice
Place apple juice in the bottom of a slow cooker.
Core, peel and slice all the apples and place on top of apple juice. Stir together your sugar and spices until well combined and sprinkle over the apples. Cover and cook for 10 hours, undisturbed. When done, allow to rest at the warm temperature setting for 1-2 hours. Then turn off and remove the lid and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes to cool.
Place in a food processor and blend until smooth (don’t use all the liquid in the slow cooker or it may be too thin). Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.