It’s fall! And since I grew up in the middle of an apple orchard, nothing says fall to me like apples, especially homemade apple butter. I have always loved apple butter and I often wondered why my mom didn’t make it very often. Then I tried making some myself. After standing in front of a hot stove for the better part of 2 hours and getting hot butter splattered on me for the last half, I understood. So when I found a recipe for apple butter in a slow cooker I was pretty excited. I ended up combining my favorite apple butter recipe from my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving with the instructions I found. Here is my version, with pictures!
Slow Cooker Sweet Apple Cider Butter
This recipe makes about eight 8-oz jars or four pint jars.
You will need:
- 6 lbs apples (I like to use 2 different types for depth of flavor)
- 2 cups apple cider
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
First, peel, core and quarter the apples. I used my handy-dandy peeler/corer/slicer machine but any method will work. If you happen to have a squeezo strainer it’s even easier. Just quarter the apples, cook them peel, core and all, and run them through the strainer.
Put the apples in the slow cooker and add the cider. If the apples get a little brown don’t worry about it. They will get much browner before we’re done.
Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or until the apples are very soft.
Puree the apples just until a uniform texture is achieved. Do not liquify. You can use a food mill, a food processor, or my personal favorite, an immersion blender.
At this point you could just leave it and have a great homemade apple sauce. But if you want to reach true apple nirvana, you’ve got a little more work to do.
Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, and cloves until the sugar is dissolved. If you want a butter that is less sweet or with no processed sugars you can substitute 1 cup of honey for the sugar. I imagine you could use agave as well, but I haven’t tried it so I don’t know how would turn out.
Put the lid on the slow cooker and vent it with a skewer or the handle of a wooden spoon. Cook on low for 10-12 hours (5-7 hours on high) stirring occasionally. I would also suggest cleaning the sides with a rubber scraper, unless you like toasted apple leather. (It’s actually pretty tasty.)
Apple butter is done when it thickens and holds its shape on a spoon. My favorite way to test doneness is to spoon a small amount of butter onto a chilled plate. When the liquid does not separate, creating a rim around the edge like the one you can just barely see in the above picture, the butter is ready. The apple butter in the above picture is nearly done cooking.
This is what the butter looks like when it’s done. As you can see it had reduced significantly and deepened in color. And it smells heavenly!
At this point you can eat it right away or preserve it for future consumption. In a future post I’ll go over the steps for canning the butter using the hot water bath method.