Other than pumpkin flavored everything, nothing says fall more to me than some good, spiced apple butter. Every fall a church close to my parents' house makes apple butter the slow, old fashioned way- outdoors, in cast iron kettles, over an open fire. It is a tradition. And quite literally some of THE BEST apple butter I have ever had. Even when I lived out of state and couldn't make it back home when the annual apple butter was being made, my mother always went down and picked up a jar or two for me. ;)
This past week I had apples. Like quite a few, and they were not going to stay good for too much longer. I needed to do a little something with them. Yes, I could have made an apple pie or maybe a crisp, but I have already done that at least 3 times so far this season. I needed a new idea. And that is when I came across this recipe for a Crockpot Apple Butter from Cooking with K. I had to make some of my own adjustments to it, but mainly based my recipe on hers. (By the way, take a few moments and peruse Cooking with K.... I guarantee you that a pinning frenzy will ensue. ;) )
What you will need:
8-10 apples- peeled, cored, and chopped (I used Cortlands.)
3/4 cup of apple juice (I did not have cider on hand, so I just upped my spices a little.)
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
3 whole cinnamon sticks (I am running low on ground cinnamon, but have a ton of cinnamon sticks in my pantry for some reason. :) )
This recipe is incredibly easy. I mean, SUPER easy. Toss the chopped apples in the Crock Pot. Then pour in the apple juice. Dump in the brown sugar and the ground spices and then stir to mix. Add your cinnamon sticks to the mixture. Turn your Crock Pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours. Every hour or so, stir the mixture to make sure the cinnamon is getting in there well.
After about 7 hours of slow cooking, this is what mine looked like ^^^. Remove the cinnamon sticks and then blend the mixture in the Crock Pot. If you have one of those fancy emulsion hand blenders, you can use that. I just used my hand mixer. ;) Blend it until it is the consistency that you prefer.
I opted to can my apple butter. You could just put the butter into glass jars and refrigerate, but you would have to use it all within 2 weeks if you went that route.
I canned mine by running my jars through the dishwasher right before I was ready to can the apple butter, and filled them while they were still hot. I did a quick boil on my lids and rings.
I filled each jar leaving about a 1/2 inch of space at the top. Make sure you use a non-metallic utensil to stir the butter and removed any air bubbles. Once filled, put the lids on the jars and then the rings. Only tighten the rings slightly.
Process in a water bath of slow boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Allow the jars to sit in the water bath about 5 minutes after the processing is finished. (You should start hearing those pings now! ;) )
Let the jars rest on a dish towel or cooling rack on your counter for about 24 hours.
This recipe made approximately 7-8 (4 oz.) jars.
Be looking for a recipe later this week that you can use your homemade apple butter in... :)
How about you? What seasonal foods tell you that fall is officially here?