So without further ado I give you my "so-easy-a nerd-like-me-can-do-it" apple butter. I am sure lots of wonderfully experienced kitchen and cookery people out there have some amazing recipes that are probably better than this...but I have to admit...this is pretty dang good stuff. Not gonna lie. You'll probably want to covet the whole batch.
I didn't do this with a whole slough of pictures so please...indulge me and use your imagination;) At least I included a picture of the end product. My super awesome Nerfherder got me the wee half-pint jar set to process some of these. So far they are my favourite!
Spiced Apple Butter
recipe created by Kileah McIlvain
What You'll Need:
-food processor or decent blender
-lids, rings and half pint jars
-waterbath canner, jar funnel and jar gripper
-apples...enough to blend up in a food processor and fill up your crockpot to the bottom of the "rim". (whatever variety you like, except red delicious, golden delicious and granny smith. you'll thank me...so will your tastebuds. the best is when you combine a few different varieties!)
-spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. allspice is fine as well;)
-water (if needed)
-apple corer (not essential but helps. if not, just use a knife.)
-4 cups or so of sugar (you can do a half-and-half of unbleached and brown!) or about 3 cups of honey. (i am out of sucanat/rapadura which would have been ideal because it is unprocessed and is a lovely cross between the taste of unbleached cane sugar and brown sugar... so i used unbleached organic cane sugar). If you were to do a half/and/half of brown sugar and unbleached sugar...you'd get a much more apple pie taste. try it!
How To Make It:
*DISCLAIMER* you WILL have to exhibit patience as this has to "cook down" for quite a while...like a day and a half or so. But I don't think you'll be too disappointed. It makes your house smell absolutely delicious and you get to sneak in plenty of taste tests. okay. moving on.
1. start this in the morning or evening. that way you can go about your day or wake up to wonderful smells:)
2. core your apples. do about 3 to 4 at a time and cut them into large chunks. throw them in your blender and blend to a pulp: peel and all. pour into your crockpot. do this until it fills your crockpot to the bottom of the rim where the lid sits.
3. add 2 cups of honey or sugar that you prefer, about 1 CUP of filtered water and stir. turn your crockpot on LOW and put the lid on at a slight angle so that the steam definitely escapes. you are basically making applesauce this first stage. check it occasionally, taking a taste to see if it's that "applesaucy" texture/consistency. this will probably take about 4-6 hours or so in your crockpot, but let your mouth be the judge of when it has become proper applesauce. when it gets to the right consistency, get your food processor or blender out.
4. blend a couple of cups at a time in your blender or food processor(i usually let mine cool down for a few hours by turning off the crockpot before i do this, but you don't have to if you don't want to.) until it is buttery smooth. no chunks or grainy bits should be present. RETURN smooth applesauce to the crockpot (THAT YOU HAVE RINSED OUT, BY THE WAY. almost forgot that part.)
5. ADD your desired SPICES and remaining 2 CUPS of sugar/honey to your taste preference and set the crockpot on HIGH this time, stirring occasionally over the next few hours. don't forget to put the lid on at an angle (prop it with a knife or skewer or something) so that the steam/liquid can escape! otherwise you'll just end up with overcooked applesauce instead of smooth buttery spiced apple butter.
6. taste the progression! add more of anything you desire in there. this process can take anywhere from 4-8 hours depending on how "wet" the applesauce is. as the liquid slowly cooks out of it you'll notice the consistency slowly change as you stir. the best way to "tell" your apple butter is ready is when you can put a small mound on a saucer and no more liquid "pools" around the mound of apple butter. it will be a lovely shade of chestnut brown and taste absolutely HEAVENLY. it will also not just "puddle" but generally stay in the form you "spread" it in...more or less.
7. transfer apple butter to sterilized HOT jars and process in a boiling waterbath canner for 10-13 minutes. transfer to dry towel and allow to cool completely before storing. make sure they all seal! if one doesn't, transfer it to the fridge.
These make lovely gifts! add a bit of raffia or twine and a lovely little fabric under the ring.
I also make pumpkin butter (which some may view controversial/risky in canning. The recipe is much the same only i don't blend up the raw pumpkin ( i roast mine) and do add an acidic medium in there. I also process the finished butter for longer. It has always turned out lovely and has kept very well!