Thick, delicious, and not overly sweet, apple butter is one of my favourite toast spreads. This recipe is easy to make at home and uses ingredients you’re likely to have on hand already. If you have a lot of apples to use up, give this a try. Your taste buds will thank you.
There is an abundance of slow cooker apple butter recipes on Pinterest but as I had a lot of apples to use up and my slow cooker is rather small, I wanted to find a stovetop one so I could make a bigger batch. I also wanted to find one that didn’t call for fresh apple cider, as it’s not something I usually have on hand and didn’t want to make a separate trip to the store. My search was a success when I came across this recipe on Taste of Southern, which I adjusted to suit my needs and preferences.
- 16 cups cored, peeled, and sliced apples
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2.5 cups white sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- large pinch of salt
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
Since I peeled and cored the apples, I didn’t bother with the washing. Simply slice and you’re ready to go. This eliminates the need to put the mixture through a sieve before cooking it down. Since the apple butter doesn’t need to set like a jam would, I decided I can do without the extra pectin and skip a step.
Bring the water and vinegar to a boil in a large pot, add the apples, and cook these at a simmer, stirring occasionally, until soft enough to mash, about 30 mins.
Next, I used an immersion blender to “mash” these right in the pot, making sure there weren’t any big chunks left. You will be left with what looks like apple sauce. Measure this and add 1/2 cup of sugar for every 1 cup of the apple puree. I ended up with about 9 cups of the puree and I like the mix of white and brown sugar, so I added 4.5 cups of sugar total in roughly equal proportions. You can use all white sugar if you’d rather but I do find the brown sugar adds to the flavour.
To minimize the possibility of burning the mixture, I transferred it to a large dutch oven to cook it down.
Add in all your spices (you can adjust these to reflect what’s in your cupboard – think apple pie spices and mix accordingly), salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir to combine and cook at a simmer until it thickens considerably. You’re going to want to stir this fairly regularly to prevent burning. Be careful when you do – the apple sauce will splatter and it’s very hot. So watch out!
When the mixture has thickened, start testing the sauce. Place a saucer in the freezer for the few minutes, take it out and put a little dollop of the apple sauce on it. Let it cool a little and run your finger or a spoon handle through the middle of the sauce. If the sauce runs back together, it’s not quite yet done. Keep cooking it down. If the two sauce halves remain separated by your finger trail, you’re all set.
To can the apple butter, ladle into prepared jars, tighten the lid, and process in a water bath for 15 mins.
This recipe made two large 650-ml jars.