Celebrate autumn with fresh-made apple butter
October 1, 2013 1:02PM
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
1 dozen apples, peeled, cored, cubed
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine everything except the vanilla. Mix well and pour into slow cooker.
Cook on low for about 10 hours, or until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
Uncover, stir in vanilla and continue cooking uncovered on low for about 2 hours. Check consistency. If it isn’t thick enough, cook longer.
Use either an immersion blender to blend until smooth or a blend in batches in a regular blender.
Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate. Be sure to freeze, if you aren’t going to use immediately.
Updated: November 3, 2013 6:12AM
There is no turnaround time for apple picking season. As soon as Labor Day weekend signals the winter retirement of the grill, Midwesterners flock to local apple orchards in droves.
It doesn’t matter if there is unseasonably warm weather for the first few days of autumn, excited visitors donned in rust-colored scarves and sweaters are hungry for the season and for apples. The flavors, the experience, and the preparation of countless apple-inspired dishes — apple-picking is the crux of autumn.
But just as quickly as this seasonal occurrence appears, it vanishes when the first jingle of holiday commerciality hits the public. So strange and unfortunate that those waiting nine or more months to enjoy the autumnal apple may only experience the true adventure of apple-picking for a few short weekends that yield pretty weather.
It’s best to celebrate a fleeting season with a recipe that moves just as rapidly. This one takes only moments of preparation.
Apple butter, the cardinal recipe for fall’s apple season, is whisked together in the bowl of a slow cooker and left to thicken overnight. The slow cooker does its magic and by morning, a batch of thick and flavorful apple butter is at your beck and call.
A good dozen of apples freshly picked from a recent orchard excursion is enough to a make a little more than a pint’s worth of apple butter. Sitting in a tepid bath of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and vanilla, the apples soften and thicken into a brown mash. By morning, the apple butter is ready to be eaten if you don’t mind the chunky, rustic appearance. If you want something a little more presentable to offer family or friends, blend this medley with an immersion blender until smooth and glossy.
Waiting for this delicious apple butter recipe to be ready for the licking is the hardest part, and that makes the overnight slow cooker method such a blessing. Dream of the sweet flavors this autumnal goody can elicit and by breakfast, you can experience it in real life.
The apple picking heyday may be short-lived, but this spicy jam preserves autumn all winter long.