by Heather Harris Brady
My Aunt Blanche (actually my grandmother’s cousin but that’s neither here nor there) was in her mid-90’s when she passed away earlier this year. She was a small bubbly woman who married a tall quiet man from North Carolina. Whenever they would come for summer visits she was like the Energizer bunny, no matter how hot it was, she would still make her banana pudding and other delicious and strange (to us) things.
So in memory of Aunt Blanche I decided to attempt this apple butter, something I have always loved but never got around to trying. She made it in the slow-cooker, which is genius because it can cook down slowly while you go about your business. If you start it at breakfast it should be done by dinner.
I knew we would be eating this up right away, so I made it sugarfree, sweetened with nothing but the apple cider. You can run it through a foodmill or processor at the very end if you want it super-smooth like the kind you can buy in jars. I’m sure this same method would work for other soft fruits as well, like plums, pears and peaches.
Apple Butter, Makes about four cups
- 16 cups chopped apples, a mix of varieties is best
- 1-1/2 cups fresh apple cider
- 2 t. ground cinnamon
Put the chopped apples into the slow cooker and pour in the apple cider. Turn the slow cooker to high and put the lid on.
After two hours the house will smell amazing and you will have a lovely applesauce.
After four hours it will keep cooking down and getting darker. You can see how mine has reduced by over half, but that will depend on your slow cooker, they all seem to cook a little differently.
Stir in the cinnamon at six hours. After eight hours it should be really thick and dark. You should see very little liquid when you stir. I spooned it into a metal pan to cool it down quickly.
Store the apple butter in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within a week. A magical thing happens when apple butter meets homemade bread and butter, toasted or untoasted.