There is nothing quite like picking apples from your own apple tree. We giggle as we hang on a rickety ladder surrounded by delightfully perfect red orbs Rational thought tells you not to extend beyond your reach, but that one unattainable apple beckons from a high branch …pick me now! Luckily, no injuries occur and baskets of apples are transported to the test kitchen as we prepare to test a few recipes that have waited for harvest. Today’s project: create massive amounts of deep caramel colored apple butter! The day was cloudy with chilly weather moving in so why not settle into the cozy kitchen and spend a little time cooking for colder days ahead. This method could not be more simple. There is a small amount of attention towards the end of cooking time, but other than that, you simply load the crockpot and turn it on. You will swoon for hours as your home fills with the aroma of cinnamon, ginger and apples as they cook gently down. Dreams of apple butter on toast, apple butter bbq sauce on wings, and pork loin with apple butter & cabbage become a reality. Here’s your recipe from the Starky Test Kitchen this week!
Crockpot Spiced Apple Butter
3-4 lbs of baking apples, or as many will fit in your crock pot, such as Gala, MacIntosh, Rome or Jonagold
1 cup filtered water
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon clove
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
honey if desired to taste
Wash all of your apples. Using an apple corer/slicer if you have one, cut the apples into small chunks. If you do not have a corer, simply stand the apple upright, cut down through the apple just to the side of center. Place the apple cut side down and continue to cut through the apple so only the core remains. Discard all of the cores (or compost them) leaving the apples unpeeled. Continue to fill the crock pot with chopped apples until 3/4 full. Add one cup of water and the ground spices. Place the crock pot on low for 6 hours.
After 2 hours, remove lid and stir the apples. Replace the lid. After 4 hours, stir again. The apples will breakdown and start to become dark. For the last 2 hours of cooking time, you will need to stir the apples every 20-30 minutes so they do not burn. The apples should fall apart easily and the color will start to darken. When the 6 hours have passed, the apples should be darker than peanut butter.
This is the time to taste your apple butter. Depending on the sweetness/tartness of your apples, you may want to add a tablespoon or two of honey if too tart or a squeeze of lemon juice if too sweet. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 30 minutes. We prefer the apple butter to be smooth so we run an emulsion blender through the apple butter. You can also use a food processor and whirl for just a few minutes. Many people “put up” or can their apple butter, but because the day was winding down, we chose to freeze our apple butter in small 8 oz containers. Once thawed, apple butter will last 1 week in your frig.
Enjoy the goodness of what you have created on toast, oatmeal, ice cream, in your morning smoothie or just plain in a dish. Apple butter gives great depth and flavor when added to your favorite BBQ sauce recipe and we love to serve it as a condiment to roast pork and sauteed red cabbage. We hope you enjoy the process of making your own apple butter!