I love apple picking, but inevitably every year I'm left with far more apples than I could possibly eat. I love pies, tarts, cakes, and everything else apple. The problem is typically the apples go bad before I can use them all up.
Faced with the prospect of expiring apples and no need to bake anything, I decided to try a new way to use up my leftover apples, apple butter.
This isn't actually "butter" anymore than peanut butter is butter, but rather it's a delicious spread, a bit thicker than apple sauce that is wonderful on toast, muffins, or frankly out of the jar by the spoonful. It also is the easiest thing you will ever make.
Everyone has their own method to make apple butter, but of course I prefer doing it the easiest way possible.
First cut up all your apples. You don't even need to peel them! I used a mix of different apples from apple picking but obviously the type of apple you use will alter the taste of the butter. Some apples are more sweet, some are more tart, etc. I think the mix gives it a nice balanced flavor.
I also remembered after I started chopping that I have an apple corer, so I used that, even easier! Don't worry about how the slices look, they're all going to to turn to mush anyways. Do try to make them even so that they cook the same, but again, they don't need to be perfect.
Once your apples are all sliced, toss them into a slow cooker. Season them the same way you would if you were making an apple pie, I add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla all to taste. I also add a bit of lemon juice (optional) to cut some of the sweetness. You could also add cardamon or orange if you preferred, it's all about your preferred taste. If all else fails- use apple pie spice!
Stir the apples to coat them in the spices and pour in just enough apple cider to cover them. You could use water or apple juice, but I think the apple juice is too sweet and the water isn't flavorful enough. I've been debating experimenting with other liquids and will let you know if I do.
Turn your slow cooker on high and let it sit.
Depending on how many apples and your cooker it could take anywhere from 4-8 hours, though mine is usually ready to go in 4. You'll know it's done when the apple skins have broken down and the whole thing looks like really mushy apples.
If you have an immersion blender, you can blend right in the pot. If not, transfer to a food processor (this is the one I have and I love it) and puree. I recommend pulsing because you want all the skins to be processed but you don't want it to turn into apple sauce.
The finished product should coat the back of a spoon, and it will continue to thicken a bit as it cools.
That's it! It's very inactive but it yields delicious results. I like to pour it into mason jars to give to friends and family.
You could "can" it to preserve it for longer or even freeze it, but I tend to eat it all before that is even an option.
My favorite is to serve it on pumpkin bread or with baked brie.
Have you made apple butter before?