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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1,095 Responses to Spiced Apple Butter + Giveaway

  1. 951
    Dellana says:

    I use my old slow cooker for a ton of things but I love it most for apple sauce and stews. I would love to try it with fruit butters and things like ketchup making! I enjoy reading your posts!

  2. 952
    Cary says:

    Oh, beef stew most definitely. I would love to have one I could set and forget though, especially with my 4 kids and crazy life :)

  3. 953
    Sarah Pitzman says:

    Love using the slow cooker for beans, soups and chili.

  4. 954
    Cass says:

    I made a superb brown sugar pear butter in my slow cooker this year, but of course the very bottom burned. I’d LOVE one that would turn itself off.

  5. 955
    Sharon Fiscus says:

    I love mine for doing pot roast. But my favorite currently is the Navy Bean Soup my husband made – all by himself!

  6. 956
    Susan says:

    My favorite crock pot recipe is a coconut chicken curry. It’s a
    Amazing!

  7. 957
    Helene Marie says:

    I love to make a roaster chicken in my slow cooker— when done in a broth with carrots, onions, celery and herbs, we get a meal or two of chicken in gravy over biscuits or brown rice and a quart or more of hearty base for any number of soul satisfying soups that can also be made in the slow cooker!

  8. 958
    Gail says:

    I use my slow cooker for lots of meals for the family. It is really good for breakfast on weekday mornings when you can sleep in.

  9. 959
    Jennifer says:

    OMG! I love making soup in them!

  10. 960
    Doris says:

    something nice ant hot in dose cold winter Mont’s.love a cooker like that

  11. 961
    Diane Jackson says:

    Perhaps the list of what we don’t make in the slow cooker would be shorter! Love it for one-pot meals -meat+potatoes+vegetables – left to cook all day while off to work. House smells so wonderful when you return, tired and hungry, & supper is done!

  12. 962
    Jan says:

    I love good old pot roast in my slow cooker and lots of stews and soups. I need to use it for lots more, and your post is an inspiration. How fun would it be to let my butters slow cook? Fun!

  13. 963
    Doug says:

    I used to use a slow cooker for pork roast and saurkraut. I sure could use a new one.

  14. 964
    Nicki says:

    I do not own a slow cooker and have only started seriously canning this year. However, knowing how easy it is and how much I love apple and pumpkin butter, I should really look into getting one!

  15. 965
    Meg in CT says:

    I typically use my slow-cooker for things that need a slow braise–pulled pork, short ribs, etc. I’ve never tried it for things like fruit butters, but I’m very interested to try! Thanks for hosting such an amazing giveaway!

  16. 966

    I really need to win this! Sadly, because of the size and age of my current slow cooker, I don’t use it much. I have used it to make overnight Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal and it makes the house smell AMAZING by the time you wake up! I also recently saw a recipe to make bread in the slow cooker so I would love to try that. (via Zoe Francois)
    Thanks for the opportunity!

  17. 967
    Lindsey says:

    Chili!

  18. 968
    Marisa Herbert says:

    I love apple butter and slow cookers have become my favorite kitchen appliance! This would definetly be a welcome addition and I can’t wait to try this recipe :)

  19. 969
    Mary R. says:

    Making Chicken Corn Soup was time consuming until I started using a slow cooker. Now I just put a whole chicken in before I leave for work and finish the job that evening. Tastes better too. When we get a big snow I’ll plop some frozen broccoli, cream of celery soup, half & half, and Old English cheese in the slow cooker. There’s a nice bowl of soup waiting for us after the driveway is shoveled.

  20. 970
    Eissa says:

    I use my slow cookers all the time; if I think it can be cooked or warmed in a slow cooker I give it a try. I always cook my spaghetti sauce during canning season in a slow cooker, and like you I have various sizes and shapes (9 to be exact…is that obsessive?). Though, I don’t have one with a lid that can seal for transport. I have looked at them but always manage to convince myself that I probably don’t need to buy another one…. but if I won it who could argue with that!

  21. 971
    Betsy says:

    My favorite thing to do with my slow cooker (I have 3 of various sizes, but none with a lid that clamps on for tranport! Brilliant idea!) is to dump the turkey/chicken carcass into it after we’ve carved it up for dinner, add water, and let it cook overnight. In the morning–it’s stock for freezing or ready to be made into soup of some sort! It saves me from having to find room in the freezer/refrig for the carcass, and I feel like I’ve got a jump on the next few meals!

  22. 972
    Kellie Duncan says:

    The most common thing I use my CP for is Beans & Ham. I’m a southern gal, but was recently up in the NorthWest for a few years. My new friends up there raved about my beans & ham. “Whats your recipe?” they would ask. I would just chuckle and tell them “Ham, beans, salt & water” .

  23. 973

    My favorite slow cooker use is pulled pork (pork shoulder). I’d consider making this recipe, too!

  24. 974
    Mona says:

    I use it to make dried beans. Perfect every time!

  25. 975
    Barbara Montgomery says:

    I love using my slow cooker to make carmelized onions. It smells heavenly and the carmelized onions can be used for French Onion Soup or as a topping for meats, potatoes or sandwiches. Yum! Love your blog, too.

  26. 976
    Melia says:

    I have never used a slow cooker but have wanted one for awhile. This one sounds great!

  27. 977
    Jennifer says:

    Sweet and sour meatballs every Christmas eve… mmmm….

  28. 978
    Will says:

    We use ours mostly for slow cooked meats.

  29. 979
    Allison H says:

    I’ve just found your blog and am beyond excited to dig in!! I love using my slow cooker (actually my future sister-in-laws that we have borrowed long term) to make hearty meals while at work. I love the idea of the the buiilt in timer. We made overnight slow cooker french toast for thanksgiving morning. It was delicious, but I had to get up at 2am to turn on the slow cooker. blerg.

  30. 980
    candiray says:

    That slow cooker sounds like it’s just the ticket! Anything cooking would make the house smell just wonderful, love the probe. This time of year I love to fill mine with spices and citrus peels just for the ambiance.

  31. 981
    Laura S. says:

    I love my slow cooker almost as much as I love my pressure cooker. A humble pot of beans with a little ham hock bubbling away on a rainy Sunday makes the house smell so good and feel so warm. I usually only use on the weekends, though, because I feel like it needs to be babysat (I’m a hoverer). The slow cooker that you featured intrigues me… :-)

  32. 982
    Connie says:

    I don’t have a slow cooker but have wanted one for soups, dried beans, and —now that I’ve read it’s possible—jams and fruit butters.

  33. 983
    Julia says:

    My absolute favorite use for a slow cooker is perpetual bone broth. Chicken carcass; garlic; veggie odds and ends (no carrots!); and water. Take it out as you need it and just refill the water. Since I broke all of my slow cookers about a year ago and have been getting by on hand-me-downs, keeping this recipe going for longer than one day has been a challenge.

  34. 984
    Justine V. says:

    I typically use mine for pot roast and stews, but am intrigued to try apple butter in mine. Would love one of these slow cookers!

  35. 985
    Nerissa says:

    I love a simple chuck roast with just onions and maybe some garlic. I just let it go all day for meaty deliciousness.

  36. 986
    Amanda says:

    I have three old slow cookers that I use for dyeing yarn, and one newish one that I use for food. I love making stews and I just bought Indian and Italian slow cooker cookbooks.

  37. 987
    Freda says:

    The slow cooker is definitely my favorite small cooking appliance for meats, soups, beans, and chili.

  38. 988
    Carla Edwards says:

    Gosh. You all inspire me. I haven’t used a slow cooker in years but now I’m thinking I’ll get down the one I still have from the 70′s and see if it still works. Winter stews and soups–yum.

  39. 989
    Gerald says:

    Mine works pretty well when I need to melt chocolate.

  40. 990
    Shirl says:

    I use my slow cooker to make a large batch of spaghetti sauce, venison chili and I even bake potatoes in it. Just prick them with a fork and put them in their on high and dry,(no liquid) for 6-8 hours. Not exactly the same as the oven, but great when you have leftovers that are calling for baked potatoes. Great with leftover meatloaf or ham.

  41. 991
    Chris says:

    I use mine for stews – mainly elk and venison – the cooker does a great job, results in very succulent meat. I tend not to indulge but my husband loves what I cook.

  42. 992
    Amanda Thompson says:

    I love making soups and stews ~ the house always smells so amazing!!

  43. 993
    Susan says:

    Wow, I think I discovered you just in time! I’m enjoying browsing the posts. I love using my slow cooker for everything from applesauce to beef stew to Anasazi beans. It’s the most versatile thing I have, and I’ve been thinking I need to get a larger one. Mine only has high, medium, low and off – no timer at all! Thanks to you and to Hamilton Beach for a chance to win.

  44. 994
    Jason says:

    I like to use my slow cooker for soups but hands-down my favorite is a roast. Beef with potatoes, celery and carrots. Soon I will be getting some locally grown beef and I can’t wait to make a roast with it!

  45. 995

    oh my! so many great entries you have! i have used slow cookers and crock pots for years. since the kids have left home, i have down sized to the biggest being a 4 qt cooker that has a hot spot ( ugh). i started making butters in small batches last year (used to use my roaster and the oven before) and of course that just doesn’t cut it. i also would love the timer prospect, so i guess if i don’t win this one, i will watch for sale and buy one

  46. 996
    ek says:

    bone-in soup and beans, beans, beans!

  47. 997
    Kim says:

    Chili Stew! The best of both worlds in one dish!

  48. 998
    keapdx says:

    The best is yet to be! (I don’t have one). Fruit butters sound fabulous; and I do have some lovely Rancho Gordo beans that like low & slow cooking.

  49. 999
    Maribeth says:

    I love using my slow cooker for meatballs or hamloaf balls

  50. 1000
    Ron Nichols says:

    A slow cooker allows me to make some of the best soup stock from the odds and ends I froze over that last few weeks/months.

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