Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes | Cook Time: 14 hours | Special Equipment: Slow cooker (crockpot) | Preheated Oven: 275F degrees
- 16 cups cored and thinly sliced apples (about 16 medium apples from Rose Hill Farm)
- 4 cups apple cider
- 2-1/2 cups Sugar in the Raw®
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground allspice
- Salt, to taste
Step by Step
- Place apples and cider in a slow cooker. If you don’t have a slow cooker, no problem. You can use a large, heavy-bottomed roasting pan instead.
- If using a slow cooker, set to high for 4 hours until the apples cook down and soften completely enough to mash. If using a roasting pan, bring the apples and cider to a boil then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and cook in a 275F preheated oven for about 1 to 2 hours until the apples are soft.
- Once the apples have softened, mash until they are fairly smooth.
- Next, stir in the sugar, salt and spices.
- Cook in your slow cooker or roasting pan until the apple butter is thick and spreadable. Once you have the apple butter to a thick paste that is the consistency of jam or jelly, you’re good to go. For slow cookers, set to medium for 6 to 8 hours with the lid ajar, but not completely off. This will allow the water in the mashed apples to evaporate at an even rate and thicken the apple butter. Stir every couple hours (or more often if your slow cooker runs hot) to prevent sticking and burning. If using the heavy-bottom roasting pan, return the apples to the 275F preheated oven half covered and cook until dark brown for 6 to 8 hours, stirring every hour since it tends to dry out faster in the oven.
Farm2ChefsTable Tip: The slow cooker takes a little longer, but it is more hands off and simpler to do. It’s pretty much set it and forget.
Farm2ChefsTable Tip: Regardless of your cooking method, be sure the apple mash is simmering, not boiling. Check the apple butter every hour and taste for seasoning and sweetness.
Farm2ChefsTable Tip: If the apple mash appears to thicken faster than it is browning, don’t be afraid to add a few splashes of water. This will prevent your apple butter from thickening too quickly to avoid burning as it browns.
- When your apple butter has reached the proper consistency, test for doneness by placing an empty plate in your freezer for 30 minutes. Once the plate is chilled, spoon a little apple butter onto the plate. This will instantly chill the apple butter and let you know its true consistency. Drag your finger through the chilled apple butter. If it holds the finger indentation without flowing back on itself, you’re good to go. Another way to check the consistency is to observe the bubbles of the reducing apple mash. If the bubbles look thick and concentrated, that means your apple butter has thickened. I like to use the analogy of lava boiling as opposed to water boiling. Lava boils thick bubbles. If the bubbles of the apple butter are loose and fairly rapid like boiling water, keep cooking it down.
- If you want to preserve your apple butter, you will need to sterilize the jars and lids first to prevent botulism before canning. To sterilize, simply boil the jars and lids right side up in a pot for 10 minutes. You can leave them in the water for up to an hour. Carefully remove the jars from the water with canning tongs and allow to drain. As an alternative, you could also sterilize the jars and lids using the heat cycle of your dishwasher. Wash your hands well before touching the sterilized jars and lids. Also, try to avoid touching the inside of the jars and lids. Just use a little extra precaution when canning.
- Once the jars and lids are sterilized, heat the apple butter on the stove until hot.
- Place the hot apple butter into the sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Twist the lids on tightly.
Farm2ChefsTable Tip: There are different types of canning methods. For apple butter, because it is sugary, Farm2ChefsTable recommends the boiling water canner method.
- Place the jars into a deep pot with a rack under the jars. The pot must be deep enough so there is space for the jars, a rack under the jars, room for at least 1 inch of water above the jars and extra room for the water to boil rapidly without boiling over.
- Submerge the sealed jars in water and boil on the stove for 5 minutes for an altitude up to 1,000 feet or 10 minutes from 1,000 to 6,000 feet. This is based on guidelines provided by the USDA National Food Safety Database for pint or half-pint jars. Add 5 minutes processing time for quart jars.