Hello everyone! Today, I am hibernating in my house with the pups because a) it is 14 degrees out and b) we have a foot or more of snow coming today. Thank you Lake Erie. The dogs are equally unimpressed, when I open the door to let them out they just stare at me like “are you kidding me right now? No I am not going out there” then they run and curl up in front of the fire place. Goofballs. But anyways, today is as good a day as any to get my crock pot out and get a batch of apple butter going.
I love cooking anything in the crockpot. It is easy, doesn’t require much attention, and makes your house smell delicious for hours. You can’t beat that! Remember my homemade pumpkin butter recipe? This is the same concept as that; just with apples! When shopping for apples, I always like to buy a mix of varieties. A lot of farmers markets will let you make an assorted peck or half bushel. If you are lucky, some farmers markets (like mine) sell “sauce apples”. They are apples with a bump, a wrinkle, or a bruise that they can’t sell as top quality produce, so they sell it at a discounted price. This is perfect for apple butter or apple sauce because you don’t need perfect apples. Cut out the little bruise and off you go!
So what varieties of apples should you be looking for? You want soft, sweet apples for your sauce. These cook down smoother and allow you to use less (or no) sugar. I also like to add in a few tarter ones for taste. Normally I just go around with my half bushel and get a few of each apple variety. My favorites include:
- Mutsu (Crispin)
- Northern Spy
- Golden delicious
- Jona gold
- Pink Lady
- Ida Red
A couple helpful notes before you get started:
- I have a 6 qt crock pot, which I fill to the top to make this recipe. It takes about a quarter of a bushel of apples (1 peck). if you have a smaller crock pot, please adjust quantities accordingly.
- While chopping your apples, you may want to set a big bowl aside filled with water and lemon juice to put your apples slices in. This will prevent them from browning while you finish cutting up your apples. For each cup of water, put 1 tbsp lemon juice. When you are done, just drain the liquid and put the apples in your crock pot. It won’t affect the flavor at all.
- You can add as much or as little sugar as you want. I often see apple butter recipes with 2-4 cups of sugar in them. I don’t like to use a lot of sugar in recipes and apples have a lot of natural sugar in them, so I normally use anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup total sugar (white and brown). Everyone who tries it thinks it is plenty sweet.
- I store mine in 4 oz tupperware containers in the freezer. It makes great gifts!!
- This recipe takes about 12 hours in your crock pot. I normally chop the apples at night and throw it all in the crock pot and let it cook over night. Be warned: when you wake up, your house will smell SO GOOD!
- 1 Peck (1/4 bushel) of Apples (mixed varieties)
- ¼ to ½ cup white sugar
- ¼ to ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground all spice
- 1 tsp ground clove
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1½ tablespoons vanilla extract
- Peel, core, and roughly chop apples.
- Place apples and all seasonings (except vanilla extract) into crock pot. Cover. Set on low for about 10 hours.
- Add vanilla extract and stir into apples. Leave lid cracked open (to let the excess moisture out and help thicken your butter) and cook on low for an additional 2 hours.
- Use your immersion blender (or transfer in batches into a stand blender) and blend until smooth.
- Continue to cook uncovered until desired thickness is reached.
- Store in fridge or freezer.