Sunday, September 8, 2013

How to: Slow Cooker Apple Butter

My family has two beautiful apple trees on their farm in Iowa, which produced an amazing number of apples this year - more on that later! After almost a week staring at my giant box of apples, I started feeling a time crunch to use up these babies while they are still perfectly ripe. Enter Slow Cooker Apple Butter.

I did a bit of online research for apple recipes, and kept coming across recipes for apple butter. When I was a little girl, my grandma served homemade bread to my brother and I ALL the time when she watched us after school, and apple butter was one of my favorite options she gave us for topping. I haven't had it for years and knew I had to try making it myself. I used a wonderful recipe from My Baking Addiction. This was so easy to do, I had to share the simple steps it takes to make apple butter in the crock pot!

Step 1: Weigh and rinse.

I used about 5 pounds of 'baking' apples in this recipe - Jonathan apples. Weighed using the non-fancy-kitchen-appliance method of putting a bag on the bathroom scale!

Step 2: Peel, chop, repeat.

Make sure you peel the apples and remove all of the skin. The peeling itself only took about 15 minutes; the chopping and coring is the longest step in this recipe. But well worth it!

Step 3: Mix your apples and spices in the crock pot.

Mix your apple slices with the sugar/spice mixture! Most recipes I looked at suggested cooking the apples on low for 10, 12, or 14 hours, stirring every once in awhile. This can vary widely depending on your slow cooker / crock pot - mine ended up looking done in only 4 hours! It may be because my crock pot is black, so food cooks faster than the white ceramic version. Even though the apples were incredibly soft in a short amount of time, I left this in the crock pot for 11 hours - on simmer and then the warm setting.

Step 4: Blend blend blend.

It's important to get your apple butter as smooth as possible. This doesn't take much after so many hours in a crock pot! Use an immersion blender or a regular blender. I used the 'stir' and 'chop' settings and only blended this for a minute or so.

Step 5: Jar 'em!

I did not can this apple butter; instead I sterilized my half pint Kerr jars and stuck them in the fridge after filling. To sterilize your jars, wash them with soap and water {or run them through the dishwasher like I did}, while a large stockpot is heating up to a boil. To complete sterilization, boil every piece of the jar - lid and rim included for several minutes. I used metal tongs to carefully pull each boiling piece out of the pot to dry.

This recipe made six half-pint jars, which will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator, or will stay fresh in the freezer for a few months!

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