It's officially fall! And with that comes pumpkin everything, sweaters, and apple picking! This past weekend I went apple picking with a couple of friends in New Paltz, NY and came home with seven pounds of apples! Store bought apple butters contain high fructose corn syrup and added preservatives - this homemade version is sweetened with a touch of maple syrup allowing the natural sweetness of the freshly picked apples shine through.
It was a beautiful day for apple picking indeed. The sun felt warm and the breeze was cool and crisp. Perfectly blue skies. Great conditions for creative inspiration. While still in the orchard, I decided I needed to make a slow cooker apple butter. I like to use a combination of sweet and tart apples for a well balanced flavor. The sweetness and ending flavor of the apple butter will differ depending on the apple varieties you use. In this batch, I used 4 pounds of gala apples and 1 pound of macoun apples. However, any variety or combination will work for this!
I chose not to peel the apples prior to adding to the slow cooker since the peel would cook down and blend nicely. Apple peel adds valuable nutrients and fiber, plus skipping the peeling saves a lot time and unnecessary work. Win/win if you ask me!
The majority of the time is spent inactively cooking on the low setting of your slow cooker. I threw in my chopped apples before bed and let them cook overnight. In the morning, after cooling for a bit, I pureed the cooked apples in a high speed blender before returning to the slow cooker for a couple of hours.
This recipe yields between 3.5 to 4 cups of rich creamy goodness - ideal for packing into small mason jar tied with twine for gifting!
Lightly sweetened with all the flavors of fall, this slow cooker apple butter is sure to please!
Yields: 3.5 - 4 cups
Active prep time: 30 minutes
Inactive cooking time: 10 - 12 hours
- 5 pounds of apples
- 1/4 cup maple syrup (optional or to taste)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
(or use 1 tbsp of apple pie spice mix in place of the 4 ground ingredients)
1. Roughly chop all the apples into large chunks or slices, removing the core. No need to peel the apples - once cooked, it'll blend right into the sauce. Cover the slow cooker and set to low for 8 - 10 hours.
2. Turn off the slow cooker and stir the apples. They should fall apart and mix into something that resembles a caramel colored mush very easily. This is essentially unsweetened natural applesauce!
3. Carefully transfer the applesauce into a high speed blender and blend on low speed at first and slowly increase until you've reached the highest speed on the blender. You want the entire mixture to become super silky smooth. It should look like a runnier apple butter consistency. If you have a small blender, you may need to do this step in batches. Be sure to cover the opening with a kitchen towel and prop open the middle opening to allow steam to escape. Keep in mind, the apples have been cooking for a long time and are very hot!
4. Transfer the blended apples to the slow cooker and stir in the maple syrup, vanilla, and spices. This is a good opportunity to taste for sweetness, adding more syrup if you prefer a sweeter version. Set the slow cooker to high and cook uncovered for 2 hours. Stir the mixture every 30 - 45 minutes to avoid burning on the sides and bottom.
5. Carefully transfer to glass mason jars for storage. Decorating with twine, burlap, or ribbon is optional, but oh so cute!