Monday, November 5, 2012

Flavors of Fall: Homemade Apple Butter - In your slow cooker (crockpot)

Since we received the foodie pen pal box and since the day of Rugged Maniac and eating at Cracker Barrel with mom I have been dwelling on apple butter.

Our lovely foodie pen pal was gracious enough to make apple butter and send it our way - sorry honey, I didn't share.

Hers was smooth and creamy. Delicious too. Cracker Barrel tends to have a more grainy texture to it, not much though, still delicious.

I've always enjoyed apple butter but can never really justify the cost to buy a small jar of it. Well no need to try and justify the cost now.

Find apples on sale - like 88 cents a pound from your local grocer (or local apple orchard) and use ingredients you already have in house probably (ground cloves, apple pie spice, cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla) then add to your fabulous crock pot and fo-get about it! (done in my best Brooklyn accent I can muster).

So to google I went to find a recipe. I searched and searched to find one that didn't contain 10 bazillion cups of sugar or required me to buy applesauce, I mean, that's cheating right? I want to make it myself not use Mott's applesauce to help me. Gosh, I will buy the apples - especially during apple season and when they are dirt cheap. Of course I'm that anti-box mix baker usually (not that I don't use boxed mixes on occasion).

So after searching and still modifying I found one over here at My Baking Addiction. A lovely blog if I do say so.

I still ended up modifying her recipe, which you will see here shortly.

First I had to go buy some apples - and by some, I mean about 15.

Then I had to prepare to peel, core, and slice. Of course do I have an apple corer? No, so old fashioned knife and wood shop made cutting board (from high school days) it was.

That's my apple army if you couldn't tell. They were taking over my counter space (what little my kitchen has - I hope to one day have a big kitchen with more room than I know what to do with. One day)

I ended up using 5 different types of apples - I wanted variety and something more than just a monotone flavor. I wanted depth, sweetness, tartness, and appely. Yes, appely - it's a word now.

So after peeling - which seemed to take forever and a day - my father called while I was doing so to congratulate me on my costume win at work.

After peeling for forever I finally was able to slice them up into pieces and add them to the crock pot.

Then it was time to cover in the cinnamon, cloves, spices, and sugars.

At this point it looks like I'm making apple pie filling.

So in all it took about 14 hours to make. You have to stir a few times, no biggie really - this turned out fine without excessive stirring (I slept through the first 10 hours of this cooking).

The recipe is as follows:

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
6 1/2 lbs apples - peeled, cored, and sliced (about 15-16 medium apples)
1 cup granulated sugar (I only used 1/2 cup)
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (I only used 1/2 cup)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (pure tastes best)

1. Place apples in slow cooker. In a medium bowl combine spices and sugars. Pour mixture over apples and mix well.
2. Cook in slow cooker for 10 hours, stirring occasionally (or like me only stirring AFTER 10 hours because I went to bed), until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
3. Use an immersion blender (if you have it - or use a potato masher like I did) and puree apples until smooth.
4. Spoon mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze.
5. Serve on whatever suits you - breads, muffins, sweet potatoes, pork chops, or even just eat straight up with a spoon (like I do)

---I cut back from 1 cup of each sugar to 1/2 cup of each due to the variety of apples I used. If your apples aren't as sweet you are more than welcome to add more sugar.
---My apples included, 3 gala, 3 braeburn, 2 golden delicious, 4 granny smith, and 3 Fuji. You are welcome to experiment with whatever suits your fancy.

And here is the final product, I used cans that I have collected from foodie pen pals and friends who can. I do not. I don't have the materials to can quite yet, though Mike and I would love to have a garden and do so.

Yum! This is a bit grainier due to not having an immersion blender to use to smooth it out. Oh well, tastes great anyway even when mashed with a potato masher.

That is all my friends. This proves you don't need to buy most things, you can make just about anything you find jarred, canned, or packaged at the store.

Now go out and cook!