Every September I like to take the kids apple pickin’. Its always a fun, family day outside in the fresh air and a great excuse to bake up pies and crumbles for the freezer. Last year we went to an organic “pick your own” orchard in Abbotsford, BC. I was thrilled to find my favorite apple variety, Gala, growing on our very own farm so this year I get the added pleasure of pickin’ our own apples.
The very first thing I do with those apples is make Apple Butter. Its super easy, so delicious and fills the entire house with its spiced apple aroma. The first time I heard of apple butter was from a German colleague who was reminiscing about treats her grandmother made when she was young. I was intrigued of course so I found a recipe that was suitable for modern water bath canning, tried it out and fell in love. I shared out a few of those jars to skeptical taste testers and soon began getting requests for more! It has become an awesome family tradition ever since and something I look forward to making every year. In fact, after moving 5000 km, I now ship a whole case of apple butter to my eager family who send me subtle little “down to our last 2 jars” reminders when they are running low 🙂
Here’s the recipe I use:
- 6 lbs apples – or enough to fill your crock pot very full.
- 1 -3 cups sugar (to taste)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Core and slice apples but do not peel. Fill crock pot with apple pieces layering with sugar and pack down tightly. Sprinkle the spices on top. Put the lid on the crock pot and cook on “high” for 1 hour. Stir the apples gently and continue cooking on “low” for another 8 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the crock pot lid and cook uncovered on “high” again for the final hour. The apple butter should be dark and thick. If its too thick you can stir in a little apple juice and if its not thick enough just continue cooking in the crock pot. Ladle the apple butter into hot jars with lids and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Share with family and friends.
Serving suggestions: I like apple butter best slathered on hot toast with a cup of tea. Awesome Son likes to add a spoonful to his oatmeal. My parents enjoy it served with pork in place of apple sauce. It is also truly incredible when paired with pumpkin bread.
**Caution: Hot apple butter BURNS! The first batch of apple butter I ever made called for cooking the apples the traditional way in a large stock pot on the stove for 12 – 24 hours, stirring regularly to prevent the caramelizing apples from sticking to the bottom and scorching the entire batch. The splatters were lethal and left me covered in painful blisters. The crock pot version is by far safer, easier, quicker and just as awesome.