Spiced Apple Butter + Giveaway

finished apple butter

Since I was very young, I’ve been something of a collector. I figured that if having one of something was good, then having three or four was even better. As a kid, this meant that I had more pens and pencils in my school bag than necessary and felt most comfortable when I had a back-up security blanket.

In my adulthood, this propensity towards duplication has most actively manifested itself in the kitchen. I have at least two dozen wooden spoons and spatulas (when just a handful would really do), three vintage waffle irons (because you never know when one might break) and five slow cookers.

slow cooker

There’s no really good defense for the wooden implements or the waffle irons, but I do have a rationale for the slow cookers. My slow cooker needs often vary and so having different shapes, sizes and eras to choose from give me options.

Dips go in the mini-cooker. When I make overnight oatmeal, the 2 1/2 quart pot is best. If I’m doing a batch of blueberry butter and want really low, slow heat, nothing works better than my vintage, 4 quart, avocado green cooker. I also have kept a basic 6 quart cooker in the rotation for a while for stocks and soups, though I must confess, it has never been my favorite.

slicing apple

Then there’s slow cooker number five. It joined the line-up recently and rocketed to the top of my slow cooker hit parade. It’s the Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget model, with a lid that can be locked into a place and a thermometer probe that you can use to test internal temperatures without lifting the lid and releasing the heat. It allows you to set the cook time and temperature (when the time is up, it shifts to a keep warm setting).

This time of year, my slow cookers are in regular rotation for the production of apple and pear butters. I typically go with my vintage cooker, because I know that I can trust it not to burn (older slow cookers have lower set temperatures than the newer models). However, because of its capacity, it ends up yielding just a couple of pints. As you know, most of the time I like a small batch just a little more than the next girl. During the holiday season that changes and  I appreciate the option of larger yields for gift giving.

clamps

I realize now that I’ve avoided the newer cookers and their higher temperatures because I’ve never worked with one that had an auto shut-off before. I tend to let my fruit butters cook overnight. That was too much time for my brute force, either-on-or-off cooker. But having the option to set it to cook for 5 or 6 hours and then shift to warm has changed everything. I know this technology has been around for a while (my mom had a slow cooker when I was little that did something along these lines), but I’d never before experienced it. I am in love.

My fruit butter yields are higher because the new Hamilton Beach machine has a larger capacity and I’m not running the risk of burning the butter because it shuts off when I ask. I am a happy canner.

mid-slice

Before we get to the apple butter recipe I’ve made three times in the last month in machine, I have to tell you one more reason why I really like it. It’s that “Stay or Go” feature. This slow cooker has a lid fitted with a silicone seal that can be locked into place. That makes it an able traveler, which is terrific for a regular potluck-attender like me.

I used it to transport and serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving (sadly, they were the worst mashed potatoes I’ve ever made; both lumpy and gummy at the same time. But the quality of the potatoes wasn’t the cooker’s fault) and it will be pressed into travel service again soon.

stay or go

The formal recipe I’ve been using for this slow cooker apple butter is after the jump, but here’s the narrative version. You begin by filling your slow cooker to the top with sliced apples (I got about eight pounds into my cooker, but there’s some natural variation here). You add a little water (maybe 1/2 a cup) to help things along and then you let the cooker for for four to six hours on low, until you can mash the apples into sauce.

Then you puree the heck out of the applesauce, until the skins disappear. It works best in my Vitamix, but I’ve also achieved this same effect with an immersion blender and persistence. Then you return the puree to the slow cooker (it will only fill it 2/3 of the way up at this point) and cook on low for another six or so hours with the lid slightly askew for venting purposes, until the sauce has reduced into butter. Stir in sugar, spices, and lemon zest/juice for balance. That’s it! Easy and makes such good holiday presents!

Finally, the giveaway. Hamilton Beach has generously given me eight (yes, that’s eight) of these Set ‘n Forget Slow Cookers to give away to my readers. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite slow cooker use.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Saturday, December 22, 2012. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday.
  3. Giveaway open US residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
Disclosure: Hamilton Beach gave me one Set ‘n Forget Slow Cooker for review and photography purposes and they’re providing eight additional units for this giveaway. They did not pay for inclusion on the blog and my opinions remain entirely my own. 

Spiced Apple Butter + Giveaway

Yield: approximately 3 pints

Ingredients

  • 7-8 pounds apples (any varieties you like)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • zest and juice of one lemon

Instructions

  1. Slice apples and heap them into a six quart slow cooker.
  2. Add 1/2 cup water and set to low.
  3. Cook until apples are tender and can be easily pressed into sauce. On low, this will take 4-6 hours. On high, it should only take 2-3 hours.
  4. Puree softened apples into a smooth puree (it shouldn't be necessary to peel).
  5. Return to puree to slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours with the lid set slightly ajar so that it can vent.
  6. Add 1/2 cup sugar, spices and lemon zest/juice. Taste and add more spices and sugar, if necessary.
  7. Funnel hot apple butter into prepared jars.
  8. Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  9. When time is up, remove jars from canner and let cool on a folded kitchen towel.

Notes

My batch yielded just over 3 pints, but with all things that depend on reduction, yields will vary. I can see this batch ranging from 2 to 4 pints, depending on the water content of the apples and the length that you cook them.

This recipe can be canned in pints, half pints, quarter pints or any other small jar designed for boiling water bath canning. All jars pints or smaller are processed for 15 minutes. Should you want to can it in quarts, increase processing time to 20 minutes.

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1,094 Responses to Spiced Apple Butter + Giveaway

  1. 1051
    ann marie says:

    i asked santa for a new crock pot for christmas. its my soup cooker. nothing better than beef stew in the crock pot. except leftover beef stew mixed with fettucini alfredo. omg thats so delish.

  2. 1052
    Liesl says:

    Honestly, I’m terrified of my slow cooker. Despite yielding wonderful stews and juicy slow cooked chicken, I almost never use it unless I come across a particularly exciting recipe that specifically calls for it. I have a hard time trusting any hot cooking implement that I can supposedly walk away from. How is that not a guarantee for disaster? :) I have always wanted to try slow cooker fruit butters and slow cooker yogurt. This post is inspiring me to work on my trust issues through a last minute pear butter for stocking stuffers.

  3. 1053
    Dougie says:

    I haven’t used a slow cooker in years but I’ve been hearing more varied uses for them that I’ll have to see if I can find mine. Thanks for another reason to hunt.

  4. 1054
    Natasha says:

    I only have one slow cooker, the Hamilton beach standard of 15 years ago. My family is much larger now and the handle is loose on one side making it unsafe to carry by the handles any more.
    A new slow cooker would be a very merry gift to me!
    Thanks.

  5. 1055
    Debbie C says:

    I’ve used a small one for a meatball appetizer recipe, but a larger one would provide new options.

  6. 1056
    Pam says:

    My son gave me a new crock pot for Christmas about 5 years ago after I “retired” the one I got for opening a bank account for him about 30 years ago. That first crockpot is still going strong after all those years, but I use it for dyeing wool/yarn so can’t use it for food anymore. My favorite use for the new one (which is larger) is reducing tomatoes. I put 10-15 lbs of tomatoes through a hand cranked machine that spits out the seeds & skins from one end and the pulp/juice out the other. I’m sure it has a proper Italian name, but I don’t know it. The pulp/juice goes into the crock pot overnight on low with the cover propped open a bit and in the morning, the reduced tomatoes are ready to be put up. So easy!

  7. 1057
    Diana L says:

    Lately, I’ve been using mine a lot to make soap! But usually, I use it most for chicken broth or yogurt.

  8. 1058
    Julie says:

    I use my slow cooker for so many things. My favorite is to make dinner before I leave in the morning for work and it’s ready when I come home!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win this one!!!

  9. 1059
    Susan says:

    I use my crock pot at least weekly! I love throwing a pork butt into it and letting it cook for a really long time. I tend to start it in the evening of one day to have for dinner the next day! It comes out so tender, then put it over rice.

  10. 1060
    Annnie says:

    My new favorite slow cooker use is overnight oatmeal. Yum!

  11. 1061
    Ellen says:

    pork shoulder! I put a frozen pork shoulder in my slow cooker right before bed and set the cooker on low. I add a little wine or stock and go to sleep, waking to a kitchen that smells so good I can’t stay in bed. I tweak the spices, adding dribs and drabs of whatever’s on hand, but always S&P, garlic/onions, and the last bits from a few homemade jams & jellies plus a little more wine. It cannot fail and couldn’t be easier.

  12. 1062
    Stella says:

    I always love a good roast with potatoes in my slow cooker. What an easy and cozy meal!

  13. 1063
    Sherry says:

    Chicken and Dumplings would be my favorite thing to make in the slow cooker. That is how my mom made them. The perfect comfort food for me.

  14. 1064
    Gary says:

    I love cabbage, so my favorite slow cooker meal is pork and sauerkraut. In fact, that sounds like a good meal for New Year’s Eve!

  15. 1065
    heather says:

    I love making chicken, carrots, potatos, onion in my slow cooker.

  16. 1066
    William Cummings says:

    I love to slow cook Indonesian dishes, especially rendang, which is absurdly spicy beef. Yum!

  17. 1067
    Kate in NY says:

    Ooooh – my old crockpot could really use a new, shiny friend!

  18. 1068
    Barbara says:

    Homemade chicken noodle soup!

  19. 1069
    Jamie says:

    We got our slow cooker as a wedding present, and since then it’s become my favorite way to cook a whole chicken with minimal effort. As a stay-at-home mom with a toddler, it’s wonderful to throw things into the slow cooker and go about my day. It’s a kitchen favorite. We like to throw a chicken, some potatoes or other root-y vegetables, a little beer, and some spices in the pot and leave it be. Delicious!

  20. 1070
    Kelly Holicky says:

    I love to go home on my lunch break and fill up the slow cooker with whatever I choose for dinner and then set it and when I come home from work dinner is ready! It can’t get any easier than that!

  21. 1071
    Jo says:

    My favorite recipe are pinto beans that have evolved into these beasns with a bit of tomato paste seasonings (Mexican oregano,cumin, chile powder seasoning mix, garlic, onions, a couple of bay leaf and some chicken stock). Key is enough seasoning and not to over do the liquid. The day before I make a roast in the crock pot and next day we have tacos with homemade tortillas and beans. This may be my husband’s favorite meal.

    Love your blog and your wisdom. Have a wonderful Xmas and happy new year.

  22. 1072
    Brenda says:

    I think the best thing I’ve ever done in the slower cooker was pulled pork. My one slow cooker is a bit of an odd size– too small to do most standard recipes, but too big to heat up dip for parties. Maybe I’d use it more if I had one of these fancy new ones! Looking forward to trying a small batch of apple butter with the bag of “cosmetically challenged” apples I snagged at the farmers market this week.

  23. 1073
    Mitty says:

    Pot roast is great made in the slow cooker–so tender and flavorful! I would love to try this new style cooker.

  24. 1074
    Paula says:

    I’ve used our slow cooker for everything from soap to stews but it’s never been a good family friend since it doesn’t travel well. I love the idea of having a turn off feature and lock n load handles…

  25. 1075
    sarah llewellyn says:

    I love slow cookers but the newer one I have burns things. I would love one of these

  26. 1076
    Justin Stewart says:

    A few times a year my Nana would spend the day making the most delicious corned beef and cabbage. I work full time and don’t have the time to nurse a roast to perfection that’s where my trusty hand-me-down slow cooker comes in. It’s fantastic coming home from a long day at work to a slowly cooked roast with minimal effort!

  27. 1077
    Kristine Nelson says:

    I use my slow cooker for any thing from meats for burritos to roasts and spaghetti sauces.

  28. 1078
    heather spaniel says:

    I love to make soups, stews & slow roasted cuts of beef. Recently made a pulled pork that was to die for

  29. 1079
    Cheryl Munoz says:

    I use my slow cooker to make bean soups and to “hold” other dishes until I am ready to serve them. I am a busy mom and sometimes my opportunity to cook is hours away from dinner time. Yesterday at lunchtime, I made a simple veggie soup on the stovetop and then transferred it to the slow cooker to warm until dinner time. If I had transferred the hot soup to my fridge it would have warmed up my fridge…so putting in the slowcooker on low seems to work best. Also, the soup develops more flavor over the hours it gently simmers in the slow cooker. I am about to make some serious apple butter up in here, now! Thanks for the inspiration!

  30. 1080
    Susan says:

    I don’t really have a favorite slow cooker use, having never had a slow cooker, but I can say that my favorite things I imagine doing with a slow cooker are bringing it to work and making soup for an evening meeting (one of my colleagues used to do this and it made our shared office smell so good!) and making fruit butters! (plus, funny you mention a Vitamix here: a slow cooker and vitamix are the 2 kitchen tools I’ve been wondering whether I really need, or whether I don’t need to spend the $$).

  31. 1081
    Sam says:

    I use my current slow cooker for chili and other beans, as well as soups and stews. I’ve got apples and raisins stewing in it right now to be a french toast topping for tomorrow’s breakfast.
    Now that I’ve got a kitchen with counter space, I’d love to have a second, more reliable slow cooker to be able to reduce fruit to butters: I don’t trust mine to be going that long……

  32. 1082
    Ana says:

    Currently, my usual is chili but I need to branch out to other meals in the slow cooker.

  33. 1083
    Kevin says:

    My favorite slow cooker use? Oddly enough, pulled pork. Boston butt coated with Penzey’s BBQ 3000 and a little cider vinegar in the bottom. Cover, cook on slow all day… delicious!

  34. 1084
    MJ Barnes says:

    I love to make apple butter with apples from the garden, maple syrup, brown sugar and a touch of cardamom.

  35. 1085
    Martine says:

    Oatmeal with whole oats – breakfast is ready when you wake up!

  36. 1086
    Kitt says:

    I love the idea of these giveaways– what a great way to help people try new kitchen gadgets! I am a little late for this one, but only just discovered your site. My favorite slow cooker recipe is a breakfast cereal with amaranth and sweet potato, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger and a dash of nutmeg. Nutritious and feels like a special treat in the morning!

  37. 1087

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