Apple butter is quintessential for fall canning. Its texture is luscious and the spices bring out the best of the apples. The downright easiest way to make it is if you have a crock pot and an immersion blender (stick blender) but you can still do it without. I’ll give some notes on that at the end. I don’t have exact measurements for you, but the process is so easy you can adapt it for any quantity you want to make.
A variety of sweet apples (Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, etc. Not Granny Smiths)
1. The first step to making apple butter is to make apple sauce. Core your apples and slice them. Do not peel! You need the skin for its natural pectin and flavor. Use one of these apple corer-slicers to make things easy. Throw the apples into a sauce pan or stock pot, depending on how much you have. Put 1/2″ to 1″ of water in the bottom of the pot. Set to medium heat and cook until the apples are completely soft. You may want to put a lid on your pot to speed up the process.
Once totally soft, get to work pureeing with your immersion blender. Using fast up and down motions, blend the apples until completely smooth.
Add sugar and spices to taste.
2. Fill your crock pot up to 1″ to the rim. If you have any leftover apple sauce, put it in the fridge. You may need to use this later. Set the crock pot to low for 10 hours. It is extremely important you put the lid on at an angle so steam can escape during the cooking process. If you don’t it won’t reduce. Splattering may occur; you might want to set up towels around the crock pot.
If your crock pot cooks unevenly, you have two options.
-Start the process in the morning. Stir the mixture once or twice every hour. This will help prevent burning if you don’t want to risk it.
-Let it cook overnight without being stirred, but know there might be small burnt patches in the morning. Mine had a big chunk of burnt apple butter, but it did not affect the flavor. When I poured the apple butter out the burnt chunk stayed in the crock pot.
-If you don’t have enough apple sauce to fill your crock pot completely, time in the crock pot will be reduced. For example, two quarts of apple sauce only took about 5 hours to reduce to a point I was satisfied with.
-If you have a small amount of applesauce, it will reduce faster. Larger quantities need the extra time. Consider what time of day you want to make your apple butter based on how many apples you have.
3. Once your apple butter has reduced by about half, you may find that it has become too concentrated for your taste. Add some of that extra apple sauce to thin it out. Season again if needed or desired.
If you don’t use the extra apple sauce, you can eat it right away or can it.
4. Follow your basic canning procedures. Sterilize jars in a boiling water bath or in the stove on 190F for 10 minutes. Set lids in very hot water for 5 minutes. Pour hot apple butter into hot jars, wipe rims, place lids, and screw rings on. Process in a boiling water bath, timing your jars when the water returns to a boil. 5 minutes for pints and anything smaller, 10 minutes for quarts. Set on a towel and leave undisturbed for one day. Check for a proper seal.
If you don’t have an immersion blender you will have to process the cooked apples in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill. Do it in batches so you have the apples thoroughly pureed. If you don’t have a crock pot you’ll need to start cooking on low in the morning and stir it occasionally throughout the day until it reaches a dark, rich brown color.