An important requirement of fall is apple picking. When I was younger my mom and I would take multiple trips to the apple orchard to stock up on apples in the fall. It’s a tradition that I’ve enjoyed continuing throughout the years.
My love of apples aside, this post is also about canning. Can you believe that it took me almost 30 years to try my hand at canning?! If you are truly dedicated to getting the canning process right, it will require a little research and reading before you head into the kitchen. I spent about 30 minutes on the phone with my dad, who I consider to be a seasoned expert in the art of canning. I’d also recommend the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving as wonderful guide and instruction manual. I’m going to save some of my canning tips and tricks for another post, and today I’ll share my amazing apple butter recipe with you.
Did you know that apple butter actually has NO butter?! I was somewhat surprised when I first discovered this. Apple butter gets its name because you basically cook apples down to the consistency of butter so your sauce is spreadable. Apple butter is a highly concentrated form of apple sauce produced by slow cooking of apples to a point where the sugar in the apples caramelizes, turning the apple butter a deep brown. All you need are apples, sugar, and some spices. It doesn’t get any simpler. I really like this recipe because you cook the apples in a crock pot for an entire day which means that your home will smell simply divine.
5 1/2 pounds apples – peeled, cored, and finely chopped
3 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on high 1 hour.
Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown. Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness.
Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
If you want to ensure your apple butter is free of lumps, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce before the final hour of cooking. I tried this and was very pleased with the smooth and creamy texture that resulted.