It wasn’t until five years ago that I went apple picking for the first time. I grew up in the plains of Texas so… not a lot of apple trees sittin’ around. Not a lot of trees period. When I moved to Chicago in 2005, I quickly discovered this mysterious season called fall. I grabbed my hubby and we headed out to the apple orchard for an apple pickin’ good time!
Ever since I have lived in a part of the country that has a fall season, I have really enjoyed our annual apple picking trip. This year, I went to a farm in Pennsylvania and found some really nice varieties of apples. I brought home 12 pounds of Golden Delicious and Cortland apples!
I usually make up the usual applesauce and apple pies, but this year I am going to try something different. This year, I made apple butter! And for those of you that don’t know, there is no butter in apple “butter.” I suppose they call it butter because as the apples cook down, they become smooth and spreadable- just like butter.
So, here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Wash, peel, core, and chop all the apples. Yep, it takes a while. Just whistle while you work…
Step 2: Toss all your chopped apples in a big pot with a little water (about 1 in. of water) and cook the apples on a medium-high heat until they are soft and you can mush them with the back of your spoon.
Step 3: Blend the apples up with your immersion blender or in a regular blender in batches.
Step 4: Now your apples are smooth as silk and now is the easy part. Pour the apples into your crock pot. Turn the pot on low heat. Add some sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Everyone’s tastes are different but if you REALLY need some measurements, here are mine:
3 c. sugar
4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cloves
Step 5: Cover the crock pot but keep the lid loose so that some steam can escape. This is what will help the evaporation process and the apples will cook down. Stir occasionally, taste occasionally, and season accordingly. Cook for about 8 hrs. or until it becomes a nice spreadable consistency. (*I do this step overnight and you will not BELIEVE how AMAZING the house smells when you get up the next morning! Seriously, it’s gonna be a good day.)
Step 6: Now it’s time to can and process. If you don’t know much about canning, it’s ok- neither do I. Food in Jars is a great resource to learn about canning. Basically, all you do is wash the jars, rims, and lids in hot water. Fill the jars with about 1/2 in. of room at the top. Wipe the jars clean. Stick the tops on and and screw on the rims. You will need a boiling water bath with a processing caddy for your jars. Guess what? I don’t have one of those fancy things so I just put a towel in the bottom of the pot and put the jars on top of the towel. Works just fine. Put the jars in the boiling water bath (water should be about 1 inch above the top of the jars) and process for 15 minutes. Remove them from the water, set them on a towel to cool and soon you should hear a PING! sound, indicating that the butter processed successfully.
If you do not hear the PING! sound or if you push in the middle of the jar and it kind of bounces back, it didn’t set. That’s ok, just make sure to put it directly in the refrigerator.
The apple butter can be stored in the pantry until you are ready to eat it, up to 6 months. Once it is opened, store it in the fridge.