Seasonal Spreads: Sweet Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

In the fall, we love apple pie, apple bread, apples dipped in caramel — you name it. Here's a new, sweet way to enjoy apples: in a sweet spread called apple butter.

What is apple butter?

Apple butter is a  fruit spread that's made by cooking apples down until they turn into a velvety puree. All you need are apples, sugar and spices.

You'll notice there's no butter listed there. The name "apple butter" comes from the fact that the spread is as smooth as butter.

How to make apple butter

This recipe for homemade apple butter uses a slow cooker, so you can start a batch in the evening and serve it up in the morning to add some wonderful fall flavor to your breakfast or brunch. 

Apple butter is made by cooking the spiced, sweetened apples until they just about fall apart. This might sound like a variation on apple sauce, but the two fruit sauces are actually very different: Apple sauce tends to be more rustic, with chunks of fruit in it. Apple butter, on the other hand, is always smoother, sweeter and much more jam-like.

You can just about any kind of apples to make apple butter. It's a great use for apples that might have been slightly bruised on the trip home from the market — you're never going to see any of those imperfections in the finished product.

I like to use the same type of apples that I use for other baked goods : apples with a nice balance of sweet and tart that also have a crisp texture. I used a blend of Honeycrisp and Fuji apples for this batch, but Jonagold, Pink Lady and many other types of apples will be just as delicious. 

You'll notice that this recipe makes a small batch of apple butter. I've seen other recipes that call for 15+ pounds of apples, while mine only uses 2 pounds. I don't need to have dozens of jars of apple butter on hand at one time, so a smaller batch is just right for me.

If you do want a bigger batch, you can simply scaling this recipe up. You could even give the extra jars of apple butter as gifts for friends and family during the holiday season. 

I use a small slow cooker to make this small batch, but it can be made in a larger slow cooker with no problem as long as the bottom of the cooker is completely covered with apples. If you only have a huge slow cooker, you might want to add a small one to your holiday wish list for small batch treats like this apple butter. 

The apple butter will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container, but it could last longer if you take the time to pack it in sterilized jars. Since it is a small batch, I go through it quickly enough that I don't need to do that.

I spread my apple butter on toast, muffins, scones, biscuits and all kinds of other breads in the fall. You can also use it to make my Apple Butter Pie , a twist on pumpkin pie that really showcases how delicious apple butter is.

Crock-Pot Apple Butter Recipe

Makes about 24 ounces

Ingredients

  • 2 - 2½ pounds apples
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Step 1:

Peel apples and cut each apple into 6-8 chunks, removing the core. The slices do not need to be even.

Place apples in slow cooker. Add in brown sugar, salt and spices. 

Step 2:

Cover slow cooker and cook apples on low for 8 hours, or overnight. If you want your apple butter done sooner, you can cook them on high heat for about 4 hours. Apples should be easily smashed with a fork when done. 

Step 3:

Transfer apple mixture to a food processor or blender and, working carefully (because the mixture is hot), puree until very smooth. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to use. 

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November 28, 2016
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Seasonal Spreads: Sweet Slow-Cooker Apple Butter