Making Apple Butter Takes Forever

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So we had a lot of apples this year. We could have had so many more, even, but I cut myself off at 28 jars of apple sauce, 12 jars of candied-pickled apple slices and an apple pie. And we still had 10 lbs of mcintosh apples hanging around from our own two trees… one of the only apple recipes left over to try in our new canning book Canning for a New Generation (amazing, btw) was for spiced apple butter. So what the hey, I gave it a shot!

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I started by collecting 10 lbs of apples from our trees and setting them aside. Then I went to the GIRO to find a slow cooker, where I grabbed one for $3 – sure it doesn’t have a lid and it gets unbelievably hot on the outside, but it works and that’s all I need it to do.

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Then it was time to get started. I cut all the apples into chunks (about 4 or 8 pieces per apple, depending on size), leaving the cores in and the skins on. Just chop em up. Then I put them on the stove in two batches, one large pot with 6 lbs of apples, 2 cups of apple cider vinegar and 4 cups of water, and a second batch with slightly over half of everything to use the remaining apples.

Spiced Apple Butter

6 pounds apples
2 cups apple cider vinegar
4 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Once the apples have softened and broken apart I used a potato masher to squish the final chunks before pouring the mixture into a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. The recipe calls for a squeez-o strainer or a food mill, but I don’t have those things so I just pushed the apple through the mesh to separate the skins and seeds. I then put the apple puree (from both batches) into the slow cooker and mixed in sugar, cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Notice how the apple puree is still kind of pinky and light? It turns thick and brown as it cooks. Mmm.

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It then sat in the slow cooker for 12 hours (actually, longer than 12 hours because I didn’t want to leave the slow cooker on overnight in case it burned the kitchen down. If it was a new and reliable cooker I would probably just have left it on low) It cooked for about 12 hours, until it was thick and dark. The pic above was after a few hours, and the one below the next day when it was nearly done. Notice how much it reduced, there is another inch of room at the top of the pan that wasn’t there the day before.

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When it was ready to go I could fill a ladle and it wouldn’t run over the sides. Before transferring to the jars I heated it to a boil (used the “high” setting on the slow cooker until it bubbled. You could also transfer it to a pot and bring to a boil on the stove if the cooker doesn’t get hot enough). I filled 10 half pint jars and processed them in a water bath for 10 minutes. It’s soooo good!

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