This slow cooker apple butter is a solid start to breakfast, or a versatile condiment at dinner, or a great component in an apple pie. It’s a slow-cooked smooth, spice-laden treat that’s a great answer to the conundrum of what to do when faced with a bushel of apples. Get some beautiful bread, toast it deeply, spread some really good butter on it, and then add a big slather of this apple butter. This is one of those jars that loves to be given away as a host gift to a neighbor. Our family makes this every year to give to our kids’ teachers. It’s always a hit.–Hugh Acheson
LC Apple Of My Eye Note
“Find a farm stand that sells local apples and buy a bushel. I love Arkansas Blacks, but you can use any good firm apple that you find.” That’s a plea from chef Hugh Acheson—and us—to buy local heirloom apples for this slow cooker apple butter. The Southern legend—we’re talking about Acheson—has a lot more to say on the topic. “’The apple of my eye’ means something that you are enamored with and in awe of, something worthy of your love. And indeed, for me, apples from Northeast Georgia fit that bill. My heart is aflutter for the apples whose names have not been copyrighted. Arkansas Black, Winesap, Rome Beauty, Roxbury Russet, and Esopus Spitzenburg are all illustrious varietals that will join the long roster of extinct Southern apples unless we do one simple thing: buy them. Sadly, we have convinced a generation that love is cheap and always available on the supermarket shelf, with its little affixed stickers and small-print labels that whisper of faraway origins. These are commodities that have slowly pushed the local harvest to obscurity. I want to rekindle a romance.” Yeah, what he said.
Special Equipment: 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 10 H
- Makes 9 pints
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or 1 teaspoon ascorbic or citric acid powder
- 9 pounds local apples (such as Winesap, Rome Beauty, Arkansas Black, or just about any variety that you like)
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup nonalcoholic apple cider
- 1. Fill a very large bowl or stock pot with cold water and stir in the lemon juice, ascorbic acid powder, or citric acid powder. Peel and core the apples and cut them into eighths. As you work, drop the apple pieces into the acidulated water. When all the apples are peeled and cut, drain them and discard the water.
- 2. Place the apples in your slow cooker. Add the sugar, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, salt, vanilla, and cider, and toss well. Turn your slow cooker to high and cook for 1 hour. Then turn it down to low and cook for 7 1/2 to 8 hours, or until the apple butter is “jammy” in consistency. Stir regularly throughout the cooking process, and more frequently toward the end of the process when the apple butter is jammy, but be careful of splatters, as nothing smarts quite like hot jam. If a thicker consistency is desired, uncover the apple butter and allow it to cook a little longer until some of the moisture evaporates.
- 3. Transfer the apple butter to sterilized canning jars of your choice—just make they are not chipped or cracked. Fill the jars to 1 inch from the top and screw on the lids and bands. Let cool for 2 hours. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or hot-process according to the jar manufacturer’s instructions and keep on the shelf for up to 10 months.