Hello! I enjoy the taste of apple butter, but I don't enjoy the stirring that traditional recipes for this condiment call for. Therefore, I was pleased to discover a recipe for Crockpot Apple Butter in Marcia Adams' Cooking From Quilt Country. Not only does the recipe require less stirring than what Great-Grandma had to do, but it's ultra easy if you start out with commercial applesauce - yes, rather than cut-up apples, applesauce is the base.
Here's the recipe, followed by my notes:
Crockpot Apple Butter (adapted from Cooking Fromm Quilt Country)
7 cups applesauce, preferably homemade, but a good-quality commercial kind (unsweetened) can be substituted
2 cups apple cider (see my notes below)
1 1/2 cups honey (I used a bit less)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
In a crockpot, mix all the ingredients. Cover and cook on low heat for 14-15 hours, or until the mixture is a deep brown. Pack while hot into 4 pint jars. Process in a hot-water bath for 10 minutes, counting the time after the jars have been immersed and the water comes again to a rolling boil.
My notes: I had some homemade applesauce in my basement freezer from last year - was going to use it in baking but had never gotten around to that. Upon thawing, the applesauce tasted fine, so I used it in this recipe. Obviously I'd had the work of making applesauce last year, but having it on hand made this fall made the recipe fast to put together.
I had apple juice on hand instead of cider, so that's what I used.
I don't can, so I'll freeze my apple butter instead. Therefore, I can't vouch for the canning directions.
About the cooking: one thing about crockpots, there's very little evaporation with the recipes made in them. Apple butter is meant to be thick enough to spread, so to hasten the thickening I placed the lid slightly ajar on top of the crockpot. But I didn't do this right away - I started the recipe last night, lid on, let it cook overnight, then adjusted the lid to allow for evaporation when I got up this morning. I suppose I could have left the lid open a bit all night, but I wanted to be able to monitor the evaporation rate.
The beginning of the process:
Homemade applesauce with added honey, spices and juice in the crockpot.
The finished result:
I would say this is the "deep brown" that Adams' recipe mentions! The yield is 4 cups of yummy apple butter.
Adams also remarks "...it tastes just like the old-fashioned kind, baked down in a copper kettle over an open fire." And it actually does! I once attended an apple butter festival in Waterville, PA - it's an annual fundraiser for the local volunteer fire department. I watched as huge kettles of apples were cooked down and stirred over open fires. My crockpot-cooked version is a dead ringer for theirs - but without all that stirring!