Apples, apples, apples! And more apples! Which leads to… What do you do with all those apples?!
I was thinking of all the delicious things people do with apples and then I thought, oh man, apple butter! Delicious. Do you even know how easy it is to make apple butter? It’s basically just applesauce that has been cooked down. The sugars caramelize and the sauce reduces. It leaves you with silky, smooth, thick, yummy apple butter. That’s it! You can start with apples or applesauce. I started with apples. It took about 7 hours total. Of course I did it in the crock pot because apparently I’m obsessed with it lately.
I love making things like this and applesauce at home. I feel good knowing not only what is in it, but being in control of it as well. The stuff at the store can be loaded with sugar and preservatives. I am finding that this apple butter still tastes sweet even when I only add about half the amount of sugar that most recipes call for. A lot of recipes call for up to four cups of sugar. Four cups! That seems a bit excessive, but that’s just me. I used one half cup of sugar when I made it this time. I felt it was sweet enough. But if you like apple butter really sweet, by all means, add more. I might add a little more next time just to see if I even notice a difference.
This little crock pot was full to the brim when I started. This is about halfway through. As you can see, it becomes a rich deep brown from all the yummy caramelization happening! After the apples had cooked way down, I dumped it all in my blender and blended until it got really smooth. Then I put it back in the crock pot on high, with the lid off, and let it reduce and thicken for about two more hours. When it was done, I had thick silky apple butter!
As it was cooking I was wondering how I would know if it was ‘done’. I found that one way to test that is to put a small dollop of apple butter on a plate, watch and see if a ring of water separates from the apple butter. If water seeps out, you need to keep cooking! If not, you’re good to go! Also, it should mound up on a spoon when you scoop it.
This stuff was a lot more fun to make than applesauce. I don’t really know why. I think sugar has that effect. I was trying to think of some ways to use it, other than just eating spoonfuls. Here’s some ideas:
- On fresh-made warm biscuits, bread, or muffins with butter
- Swirled into cottage cheese or oatmeal
- Swirled into pancake batter
- Or on pancakes or french toast instead of syrup
- As a substitute for oil in baking
- or in these baked chicken wings with apple onion dip? What? I may have to try that.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
yields 3 cups
3 quarts of peeled, cored, and diced apples, (about 14-18 small apples) any single variety or a mixture of Gala, McIntosh, Jonathon, Golden Delicious, or Cortland
1/2 – 1 cup brown sugar
1/2 – 1 cup sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
Fill crock with peeled, cored, and diced apples. Put sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt on top. Pour in water. Cook on High for 5 hours, stirring once or twice per hour. After five hours, pour mixture into blender or use an immersion blender and puree mixture until very smooth. Pour the puree back into the crock and continue to cook on high, with the lid removed, for another 2 hours. Stir frequently, about every 15 minutes. The apple butter should be deep brown and thick. Allow to cool completely. Separate into containers. Refrigerate for a couple weeks, or freeze up to one year.