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.

http://foodinjars.com/2012/12/spiced-apple-butter-giveaway/

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1,096 Responses to Spiced Apple Butter + Giveaway

  1. 1001
    Renita Reavis says:

    Oh how I need another slow cooker! It seems that there is so many things I want to do all at once. I am teaching my 14 year old daughter and 12 year old son how to crock so they will be able to have cooked meals when they come home to their dorms when they leave off for college. No excuses! Love crocking soups and stews to freeze for quick meals later. I tried pear sauce this year in the crock and it made it so easy.

  2. 1002
    Kim Stewart says:

    My favorite slow cooker use is to cook plain chicken breasts. Put them in on low and a few hours later they are cooked and ready to use in recipes!

  3. 1003
    Tami says:

    I don’t have any favorite uses for a slow cooker as I have never owned one.

  4. 1004
    Paula says:

    Interesting timing because I’ve never made apple butter before but made several batches this year and then canned it to give as gifts. The slow cooking really seems to meld the spices and I’m getting so many compliments on it! I made it in this ugly old crock pot that won’t die (so I feel guilty replacing it since it works) from 1990 that I got for a wedding gift…(I’m now divorced)….a lovely new one would be such a gift!

  5. 1005
    Carol Ann says:

    I like to make chicken broth in my slow cooker. In addition to fresh chicken, I add bones saved from a couple of roast chickens. I cook it low and slow, for about 8 hours, to make rich, delicious broth with lots of gelatin from all the extra bones. Yum!

  6. 1006
    Kristin says:

    I use my slow cooker all summer long since no matter how low we set the A/C or how long we run it, the house never gets below 83 degrees. I think my favorite recipe that I have is chicken tacos from a Martha Stewart recipe magazine. I’ve been thinking about investing in another one lately. I tried to cook a turkey breast in my slow cooker over Thanksgiving and had the feeling that maybe the heating element wasn’t what it once was since it took so much longer to cook than the recipe claimed.

  7. 1007
    Sandy O says:

    Beef stew. I know it’s not a canning use, but I love beef stew and like to let it stew away in the slow cooker while I’m busy doing other things.

  8. 1008
    Mariana J says:

    Oh, my slow cooker is a Hamilton Beach one as well but it doesn’t have that handy feature! I cook mostly savory things in it as it hadn’t occurred to me to cook jams! But thanks for the idea, will try it on my day off and can control the timing or if I win a sibling for my other slow cooker baby!

  9. 1009
    Nicole Strauss says:

    I have been on the hunt for an old avacodo slow cooker as you suggested in a class, but no luck! What a great Christmas gift it would be to win a HB one!

  10. 1010
    Debbie says:

    That slow cooker sounds really fancy. Mine is 14 years old; I think it might be time for a new one!

  11. 1011
    Monica says:

    Never used a slow cooker but want to make apple and pear butters. Yum.

  12. 1012
    Jeanne says:

    My favorite slow cooker recipe is definitely overnight steel cut oatmeal. It is so nice to wake up to a house full of the smell of cinnamon, oatmeal goodness.

  13. 1013
    Kendra K. says:

    My fave slow cooker recipe is tortilla soup! Yum. But now I can’t wait to try Apple Butter.

  14. 1014
    lorena says:

    I like to use the slow cooked for pork roasts that get shredded up for various uses. The best variation lately was a recipe from rick bayless for pork tacos with raisins, almonds and a chipotle sauce. The raisins bit threw me at first, but they were delicious.

  15. 1015
    Juliann Paige says:

    I have to say I’m addicted to slow cooker apple sauce. I make it at least once a week come Winter. My family eats it warm for dessert with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, Delish!

  16. 1016

    Slowcooker Ethiopian Shiro…YUM!!!

  17. 1017
    Danna says:

    The things I have made and loved the most in my slow cooker are ropa vieja, pulled BBQ pork, and apple butter…

  18. 1018
    Emily says:

    The slow cooker is how I manage a full time job and 3 little ones under age 5. Haven’t hit on a favorite recipe yet, though I’ve made a coconut thai beef that we all like a lot.

  19. 1019
    Ali says:

    Can’t wait to try your recipe! I just got a box of apples from a high school fundraiser!

  20. 1020
    Sue says:

    Until recently, I used my slow cooker mostly for meat dishes — roasts, barbecued ribs, chicken, etc. But lately…pear butter!

  21. 1021
    Linda says:

    Love the idea of the locking lid. Maybe this would prevent me from “peeking”, as I do with my current slow cooker.

  22. 1022
    Juli J says:

    Our favorite crock pot recipe is Caramel Pear Butter! Equally good as a sweet jam or on crackers with goat cheese.

  23. 1023
    Diane says:

    My favorite use for the slow cooker is to load it up the night before with a pork roast topped with some Honey Lemon Apple jam from your recipe. It makes a perfect glaze/sauce and the lemon keeps it from being too sweet. A cooker that turns to low when I tell it would be amazing!

  24. 1024
    Whitney says:

    Pulled pork! Also what is that fancy apple slicing implement you have so beautifully photographed and where might one aquire such a delightfully simple looking yet useful device? I’m really tickled by it..

  25. 1025
    Jenn H says:

    Chicken stock is my fave to make in the slow cooker. I turn it on before we go to bed & it is already to freeze in the morning!

  26. 1026
    Robyn says:

    I use the crock pot for Bluegrass festivals. That way I can be away from the camper and listening to the music (the reason I’m there) and dinner is preparing itself. If only it could clean itself!!! I also use it during all the holidays for casseroles that I don’t’ have room in the oven for or for hot drinks! Would love to have this new one that does not let the steam seep out. My lids do not fit as tight. Good luck to all! Happy holidays & Happy New Year.

  27. 1027
    GothamMuse says:

    We looked at getting a new slow cooker a few years ago, but weren’t quite convinced about any of the newer models. I love making steel-cut oatmeal overnight, and split pea soup that doesn’t scorch. I hadn’t thought about doing small batch jams & butters; but that may be the final push for getting a new slow cooker – one way or another.

  28. 1028
    Angela says:

    Love the features of this crockpot – especially the temp probe and lid seal. Chicken bone broth is what I make the most in my current crock pot, but chili is probably my favorite – although it wouldn’t surprise me if this apple butter recipe doesn’t give chili a run for the money!

  29. 1029
    Lance says:

    My favorite thing to make in a slow cooker is pork chops in apple butter, especially on these cold winter days! Or, perhaps some hearty chili to warm us up.

  30. 1030
    Donelle says:

    My favorite thing in the crock pot is soup. When I was teaching, I would load it up in the morning, turn it on and walk out the door. Just walking in the house and smelling the aroma of homemade soup was so relaxing. The only thing better was when I remembered to also set the timer on the bread machine so we also had fresh bread to go with it. YUM!

  31. 1031
    Liz says:

    My old cooker just died a slow death from overuse. My favorite use like yours is apple butter…there’s an apple farm nearby and I buy a 1/2 bushel in the fall. I got one of those hand crank peeler/slicers, and do a big pot of a variety of different kinds mixed together, but no sugar. I fill up the pot but then as it cooks down add more apples. Yum! (second favorite use: a great but easy coq au vin recipe that fills the house with an amazing smell. Haven’t figured out how to can that yet…)

  32. 1032
    Mary Ellen says:

    I use a “vintage” one that was my parents and pretty phenomenally 1970s. My favorite slow cooker use is honestly whipping up a HUGE BATCH of carmelized onions. Long time but able to do like 8 – 10 onions at a time means I am sitting pretty with onions!

  33. 1033
    George Davis says:

    I would LOVE a new slow cooker. I’m spending the day making rosemary/pear jam, apple butter, chocolate truffles and pickled okra for Christmas presents! Can’t wait.

  34. 1034
    melissa says:

    When I make apple butter and pumpkin butter, I always have to borrow my mom’s crockpot. I’d love to have one of my own, especially with all those fancy features!

  35. 1035
    Theresa Murphy says:

    Where to begin. Overnight oatmeal, keeping stew and soup warm for large dinners, warming a ham to correct temp when the oven is being used for a 28 pound turkey, making yogurt, and all kinds of other foods. Love, love, love slow cookers!

  36. 1036
    David Johnson says:

    I love to do Over Nite Oatmeal in my slow cooker.

  37. 1037
    Ellen says:

    Favorite slow-cooker use is still for soup, but now that I know fruit butters can be made in them, I will stop doing those on the stove! Thanks for sharing your methods on your blog.

  38. 1038
    Marlis says:

    I also love doing apple butter in the slow cooker. Another favorite is pepper steak sandwiches. They’re so good to have waiting for us when we’ve been outside most of the day.

  39. 1039
    Elizabeth says:

    If I had a slow cooker it would be pot roast or beans. I use grandma’s cast iron Dutch oven. Love your idea of cooking fruit butters this way.

  40. 1040
    Andy says:

    My mom made apple butter every season for years (also grape jelly from the neighbors vines and tomato chilli sauce). She had 9 kids so it was about saving money for her. I never thought about it, but she must have had a huge pot to make so much apple butter, way more than three pints. I don’t remember a gigantic pot in the kitchen though. It does amaze me how long we’ve been hauling crock pot meals to friends houses before someone thought of the clever locking mechanism. I want one too!

  41. 1041
    Christa H says:

    For jerk chicken cooked all day

  42. 1042
    Kiffie Robbins says:

    So in lust with this slow cooker…just what I need! And can’t wait to make the apple butter.

  43. 1043
    Cindy G. says:

    My favorite slow cooker use is for soups and stews. I’m trying to be a bit more adventurous (my friend and I recently made a batch of apple butter in the slow cooker and I just bought a new slow cooker cookbook), but because I worry a bit about leaving the slow cooker on when I’m not home for long stretches of time, I only use it when I can be home all day. I love the idea of the timer feature! If I could turn it on when I leave the house in the morning, then have it automatically lower the temp at some point in the day, I could come home 12 hours later to a meal that isn’t overcooked or burned on the bottom (and a house that isn’t burned, too!).

  44. 1044
    Julie says:

    I like making chicken,dumplings and gravy in my slow cooker thansk

  45. 1045
    Kate says:

    I think I use mine most to cook dry beans and soups, but I do love it for a good roast too

  46. 1046
    Karla says:

    I like cooking beans and making roasts and chilis in my Crock-Pot. One chili is inspired by Tacos al Pastor, with pork, pasilla and guajillo chiles, annato, onion, and pineapple.

  47. 1047
    Alice says:

    I use it for everything. Soups, stews, sauces, warming, just endless.

  48. 1048
    suzanne says:

    I need a new crockpot and that one looks awesom. Love the recipe too.

  49. 1049
    Sarah K. says:

    Beef stew, yum! Really anything though just because slow cookers are amazing to me-you stick everything in it, and in a few hours you have a meal. Almost no work!

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway, how exciting!

  50. 1050
    Barbara A says:

    Just the thing to try your recipe in! Plus I love to make shredded beef in my old one.