Crock Pot Apple Butter

>> Thursday, September 24, 2015

I guarantee that when you make apple butter, the entire house will smell like every holiday rolled into one day. This recipe comes form my mother, Kathleen Tarr Helbling, and my sweet German friend, Talea Bloom. If you are not blessed with the gift of a bushel of their gnarled, flavorful organic apples, there are plenty of other varieties to try.

Apple butter doesn't actually contain any butter, and is completely fat-free, and I think the name comes from its smooth, rich consistency. This sweet-sour and spicy recipe doesn't take all the fussing and hovering that a lot of jam recipes demand. You just cut up the apples and let them simmer all day in a crock pot, stirring and mushing once in a while, then boil the puree until thick and can them at the end.

This tastes fabulous on whole-wheat honey bread. Yum.


4 lbs of firm-fleshed, tart apples (McIntosh, Jonathan, or Granny Smith are my favorites)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 lemon, quartered (note: old lemons have bitter peels; try to find a fresh, plump-skinned one)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
White granulated sugar or Splenda (about 2 cups, see cooking instructions)
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice


Cut the apples into quarters, cutting out damaged parts. Don't peel or core them, or pick out the apple seeds. Put the apple pieces into a large crock pot, add the lemon, vinegar, water, and brown sugar, and cover. Turn the crock pot on high and allow to simmer for 6- 8 hours, stirring occasionally and crushing the fruit with a spoon. It is ready when the consistency is similar to applesauce. You can also let the mixture simmer overnight in a crock pot on low, but increase the time to 10 hours and stir it if you get up in the night to use the bathroom or get a snack.

Strain out the solids through a colander. Measure the apple puree. Stir in 1/3 cup of white sugar for each cup of apple pulp. Stir in the salt, cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves, and allspice. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Pour into a heavy, wide-bottomed saucepan. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened and reduced, about 1 hour. Test if it is ready to jell by pouring a spoonful on a plate and letting it sit in the refrigerator until cool. It should be thick as jam.

Pour into sterilized pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and wipe the rims. Screw on lids hand-tight and lower into a hot water bath canner. Boil 15 minutes once the pot reaches a full rolling boil. Remove from the canner and allow to cool. Test the seals before storing.

Makes 3-4 pint jars.


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