Slow Cooked Apple Butter
Remember that day that I fell in love with our garden all over again? That day when we picked a whole bounty of apples from the tree? Turns out these apples are cookers, not eaters, and they were just calling out to be made into something good to eat. Well, my friends, these juicy little goodies have undergone a transformation, a slow transformation – but, let me tell you, this was worth the wait!
I’ve spotted heaps of Apple Butter recipes on the interwebs of late, this rich caramelised, condensed variety of Apple Sauce sounded like something I wanted to try my hand at. These recipes seemed to call for white sugar – and lots of it. So, I’ve had a go at making my own, switching to a brown sugar (and trying to reduce the amounts!), you guys, this Apple Butter is the jam!
There are two main ingredients in Apple Butter – apples and sugar – no butter in sight, not really sure how this got into the name, I’m guessing because it is so rich and has a thick spreading consistency, but who really cares when it tastes this good?!
Your going to need a lot of apples, 2.5lb of apples when chopped with the cores removed
280g/10oz of soft brown sugar
Ground mixed all spice
A slow cooker
This will yield up to 2 x 300ml jars of Apple ButterRoughly chop the apples and remove the cores. Thankfully, this isn’t a beauty pageant, so these apple chunks can be any shape or size, although the smaller the pieces the quicker they will break down when cooking. You don’t even need to fuss and worry about removing the peel, these are going to be cooked all into the mix.
Load the apples into the pot of your slow cooker along with the sugar. I added a layer of apples, then covered with some sugar, then another layer of apples and more sugar, and on like this until all the apples and sugar is in the pot. Set to cook on high for 5 hours. Of course, you don’t need a relic of a slow cooker like this one. I’m assured that the modern variations will work just as well as this circa 1983 model – even if they aren’t Cordon Bleu!
After three to four hours, the apples will be starting to break down, they will smell ah-maz-ing too! If you want to get on in there and mash them up a little (because let’s face it, we just can’t help yourselves!) the flesh of the apples will be soft enough to mash with just a wooden spoon and the peel might start to separate.
After the full five hours of cooking on high the apples will be transformed – they will be all one delicious, gooey mix. Now is the time for a little taste – because why the hell not? Good, am I right?
Know what would make this better? A healthy serving of spices. As a cinnamon-oholic I went right in and added two (big!) teaspoons of mixed all spice – but add more or less depending on your love for spices. Stir though, I’m not fussed when it comes to bits of fruity pulp, but you smooth operators can go it the mix with a hand blender to smooth things out before you add the spices if you prefer.
Set to cook on a low heat setting for a further nine hours. Yes – you heard me, nine hours. It’ll be worth it I promise.
After waiting what feels like a lifetime, but I promise it is only nine hours, the apple butter will be cooked to a rich, thick, caramelised perfection. Delicious!
Ladle from the pot into a dish and allow to stand to cool – remember this hot sticky butter will burn if you drip it on yourself – take it from one who knows! If the butter seems a little runny when decanting it to a dish, don’t worry it will thicken out as it cools.
Usually anything I make in the kitchen that requires jarring up at the end of the process gets popped into old sauce or marmalade jars with the labels scrubbed off. This is great for recycling, sure, but sometimes – particularly if you’re gifting your kitchen creations, you want a jar that’s a little more, well, cute. Imagine my delight when these beauties from DotComGiftShop arrived on my doorstep. I mean, all you need for jam making right in one adorable package – I’m talking jars, lids, labels, paper toppers and even the twine to tie it – this Jam Maker’s Set is just the lushest!
While the apple butter is cooling I went ahead and sterilized some jam jars ready to fill. Do this by soaking in hot soapy water and cleaning them thoroughly. Rise the bubbles away, then add to a bath of clean, very hot water for at least 10 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and put them in an oven heated to 160c (140c fan assisted), put the jars upside down directly onto the rack and give them plenty of space. Leave for around half an hour and remove from the oven and allow to fully cool before spooning in the, now cooled, apple butter.
Carefully decant the thick and delicious apple butter into the jars, lid and label up ready to eat or gift. So, you’ve gone to all the trouble of making this apple butter, but what can you use it for? Well, you’ll be surprised at just how many different ways you can eat this rich concentrated sauce – think of it as a condiment, a spread, and an ingredient all rolled up into one.
Add a blob to your morning porridge, cereal or yoghurt, spread on pork chops for a sticky sweet glaze, or drop a blob in the pot when cooking red cabbage. Add it to cake batter when baking for a fruity hit, use as a fruity compliment to a cheese board, spread on hot toast, add a spoonful into herbal and fruit teas. Like I said, this stuff is the jam.
You know what else this apple butter tastes great with? Oatcakes! Yup, spread it straight on hearty oatcakes for a tasty snack! Enjoy!