This thick and velvety spiced apple butter is a delicious slow cooker apple butter recipe for canning and gift-giving. I love to make it during the holidays and enjoy all winter long!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the Foolproof Preserving cookbook that I got Ryan for Christmas last year has been one of the best gifts I’ve ever given him! Before I gave it to him, he had expressed a slight interest in wanting to learn how to can and preserve throughout the year. I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not, but took the chance and bought him this cookbook. I figured if the interest grew and he stuck with it, I’d reap some pretty good benefits! And you know what? I have!
Ryan has had the cookbook for one year now and has made pear butter, strawberry jam, pickled watermelon rind, dill pickles, peach jam, bbq sauce, giardiniera veggies, and now this apple butter. I couldn’t be more proud of him, and I’m certainly enjoying all of his homemade goodies! When he told me that he wanted to make apple butter for the holidays, I requested that we try and formulate a recipe that tasted as close to Apple Barn apple butter as possible. That apple butter is our very favorite, and whenever we open a jar, it’s gone in 2-3 days because we love it so much! The butter from Apple Barn is nice and dark, silky smooth, and heavily spiced with cinnamon. Perfect for a holiday apple butter!
Making Slow Cooker Apple Butter
The key to achieving a velvety, buttery texture in any type of fruit butter is to cook it evenly and slowly so that the water from the fruit evaporates without causing the sugars to burn. Of course, you could do this the old-fashioned way in a kettle over an open fire….or you could do it slowly on the stove top and endure many hours of stirring….or, you could save yourself some time and worry by letting the slow cooker do the work! Slow cooker = less stirring, less mess, less chance of scorching, even cooking…bingo!
To get that perfect reduction and texture, you’re going to need to cook your apple butter in the slow cooker for 8-10 hours with the lid slightly ajar so that the moisture can evaporate. I know…that’s a long time. Now, please take my word for it from experience and DO NOT attempt to do this overnight while you sleep! Thanks to This Is Us, I’m just not comfortable leaving any cooking appliance on while unattended. And, if you must know the truth, I did cook apple butter in the slow cooker overnight once (pre-This Is Us era )and it scorched terribly. You DO need to stir it some, every 2 hours or so, to get an even cook. So, my best advice is to cook this on a cold, snowy, quiet day at home where you can soak in the mouth-watering aroma that is sure to fill your home as the apple butter cooks!
Tips for Canning Slow Cooker Apple Butter
If you have never canned anything before, apple butter is a great place to start! It utilizes the simple water bath canning technique and doesn’t require any pectin or special canning ingredients. Be sure to prepare for canning by having all of your ingredients, tools, and equipment in place before you start. This will streamline the cooking process and help ensure you have all that is needed before you get started.
When it comes to knowing if a jar sealed properly, how to long to store canned items, and other canning-related questions, my favorite resource is the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. They recommend storing homemade jams for one year, being sure to note any change in color or the presence of leaks, odors, or bubbles throughout the storage time. Ideally, canned goods should be stored in a dark, cool, dry location with a temperature between 50-70 degrees F. So any pantry or closet shelf should be just fine!
Once you’ve made your apple butter, here are some of my favorite ways to use it:
- As a topping for pancakes and waffles
- On top of oatmeal, sweet potatoes, cornbread, and biscuits
- As a spread on paninis with turkey, cranberry sauce, and a sharp white cheddar
- As a condiment on cheese boards
- Or just enjoy it right out of the jar!
Tools you will need for this recipe
To really enjoy canning/preserving in a fun and safe way, you must have the right tools! My attempts at canning were made much more successful when Ryan purchased a canning kit for us. I’ve listed our favorite canning cookbooks and essential tools below:
- Canning for a New Generation (my first canning cookbook)
- Foolproof Preserving (the cookbook I gifted Ryan)
- Canning pot with wire rack
- Enameled cast iron Dutch oven
- Slow cooker (I have this one and love it!)
- Canning Essentials Toolkit (this is the one Ryan and I use)
- Canning jars, lids and rings
- For this particular recipe: apple corer, peeler (I have this one it is a DREAM!), and immersion blender
- 6 pounds of apples, cored, peeled, and cut into 1’’ chunks (I recommend a blend of Macintosh and Fuji for the best texture and flavor)
- 2 cups apple cider
- ¾ cup granulated sugar, estimated amount needed
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar, estimated amount needed
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
Place the apples and cider in a 5 qt Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot along with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil, stirring occasionally, until the apples have broken down, about 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat and use an immersion blender to carefully puree the apples in the pot (this step can be done one day ahead, simply cover and chill the puree overnight before proceeding).
Use a measuring cup to measure the amount of puree you have as you transfer the apple puree, cup by cup, into a 6-qt slow cooker. For each cup of puree that you have, add one tablespoon of white sugar and one tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir the sugar and the spices into the puree. Place the lid slightly ajar on the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours, stirring every 2 hours, until the puree is dark and thick enough to where a spoonful mounds up on a plate and liquid seeps out around the mound.
During the 30 minutes of cooking, fill your large canning pot with water and bring it to a boil. Once the desired thickness is reached, place the slow cooker on HIGH to bring the apple butter to a boil while you prepare for water bath canning.
Sterilize canning jars by placing them in a boiling water bath (I do this in my canning pot) for ten minutes. Keep them warm in the water until ready to use. Place the lids in a heatproof bowl and ladle a few spoonfuls of boiling water on top. Keep them warm in the bowl until ready to use. For more information on hot water bath canning, see this article
Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars from the hot water canning bath and place them upright on a towel. Remove the lids from the bowl of water and pat them dry.
Ladle the hot apple butter into the sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace at the top. Remove air bubbles with an offset spatula as needed. Use a damp paper towel or cloth to wipe the rims of the jars clean. Place the lid on top, followed by the jar ring, and adjust the ring until it is finger-tight (do not force it).
Return the jars to the water bath, being sure that each is covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil and boil for a full 10 minutes. Use the jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the water and transfer them to a towel. Do not disturb the jars for 12 hours.
After one hour of resting, make sure the jar lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of the lid. If the center can be pressed down, the lid has not sealed and the contents of the jar should be refrigerated immediately for use within 1-2 weeks.
Label the sealed jars and store in a dark, cool, dry place for up to 1 year.
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