Last cycle, I purchased some of Homestead’s red processing apples to make my yearly crockpot apple butter, and of course, I was very pleased with the results!
Making apple butter in your crock pot is easy, and nearly fool proof. Its basically cooking down the apples with the sweetener of your choice and spices, until much of the water has been cooked out, then putting them in jars and either keeping refrigerated, or water bath processing to keep in the pantry. The only thing to keep watch is to not let it burn, and to make sure you cook in long enough.
10lbs of small apples, peeled, cored and sliced
(this amount of the small red processing apples filled my 6 qt crock pot nicely) Dont forget! You can compost the peels and trimmings, I just wouldn’t compost the seeds!
3 cups of dark brown sugar, packed (or light brown sugar, or white sugar, and more or less according to your preference
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon (more or less, to your taste)
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
Place all in crockpot, mix gently. I usually mix the sugar and spices then mix it in the apples, a little less messy that way.
Cook on high, stir at least once every hour, to keep it from burning. When its time for bed, and its still cooking, turn it to low, prop the lid open a little bit to keep it from getting too hot and burning, by now it should be bubbly and hot.
When the apples are soft and cooked down, take a potato masher and mash them up to the consistency of your choice. Take a taste, does it need sweetener? A little more spice? Is it still a bit watery? Add sugar, spices or let it cook until it is right for you. Most of the water is cooked out when you place a spoonful on a plate and no or very little watery ring forms around the outside of your little scoop of apple butter. At this point, I use my stick blender and work it until the apple butter is very smooth. If you like yours a little chunky or with more texture, then just mash a bit or leave it alone.
When its perfect (and only you will know when!), turn it back to high until the apple butter is bubbling, fill clean hot canning jars to 1/4 inch of the top , Clean rims, seal with new lids and clean rings and water process them for 10 minutes. If you would rather not go to the trouble of water processing, then just put into clean hot jars. Clean rims and seal with new lids and clean rings, allow to cool, then keep in the refrigerator. Jars that are not water processed must be refrigerated. For how-to’s on water processing and jelly/jams, try here: http://www.pickyourown.org/jam.htm
I used the tall 12oz canning jars and got 6 – 12oz and 2 – 8 oz jars altogether.
I like to add a spoonful of my applebutter to BBQ sauce, it deepens the flavor, it also works well in my sloppy joe sauce! But mostly, I will give these jars away as gifts along with a loaf of my homemade bread.