this past saturday i went apple picking with some friends at stuart’s fruit farm… i get apples as part of my CSA share every other saturday, so even though i eat an apple almost every day for my mid-morning snack, they are starting to stockpile up in my fridge. i still wanted to take part in the apple picking fun, so i resolved to find a recipe that would use up most of my haul and keep for a while. apple butter is perfect — it’s kind of like a super-reduced apple sauce, so you get highly concentrated apple flavor, but without the volume of the apples you start with. stored properly, it keeps for over a year. this batch made 12 1/2-cup jelly jars’ worth, so i will be giving some out to friends and family, and storing some in the pantry. it’s great on toasted raisin bread, and i plan on using it to top pancakes and waffles as well. i could also see it being delicious in greek yogurt, or being a great dip for a banana, or even being incorporated into other baked goods (swirled in a cheesecake, maybe?). my super-simple recipe is below!
easy, low-sugar crockpot apple butter (makes approx. 6 cups; a serving is 1/4-cup)
- 4 pounds of fresh apples (i used about 1.5 pounds each of honeycrisp and macoun, plus about a half-pound each of fuji and cortland)
- 170 grams (1/2 package) of wholesome sweeteners “organic zero” (or you could try xylitol, or nunaturals baking sugar substitute with fiber, or any other granulated sugar substitute of your choice)
- 1/2 cup organic sucanat
- 1/4 cup organic grade B maple syrup
- 4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 of a fresh nutmeg nut, grated with a microplane
- 2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
- 20-30 drops liquid stevia (i used vanilla creme flavor)
- peel and core all your apples. i like to peel a ring around the top and bottom first, as i find it’s then much easier to quickly zip from top to bottom across the entire apple. then i cut the apple in quarters, removing the core in four pieces by slicing diagonally across the inside of each quarter.
- roughly chop the peeled/cored apples. these don’t have to be totally uniform.
- in a large bowl, toss the apples with your sweeteners and spices. allow to sit in the fridge for about 30 min., so that the apples start to give off some liquid. toss again so that everything is evenly coated.
- set up your crockpot. i actually used a 6-cup korean ricemaker with a “multi-cook” (e.g. slow cooker) mode, so i had to do my apples in two batches. if you are using a traditional crockpot, you will likely be able to fit the entire batch in one go.
- add the apples and juices (if you are doing two batches, be sure to save some of the liquid with the apples that aren’t fitting in the first round!) to the crockpot. if you are using a traditional crockpot, low and slow is the way to go — set it at the lowest temperature and set it for at least 6 hours. the apples will soften and reduce considerably, and the color will deepen to a rich brown. after 6 hours, check the taste and consistency, and if you wish, set the batch to cook longer.
- if you are using a ricemaker like me, you are going to want to do 90-minute rounds of cooking. so: you will set the ricemaker to pressure cook the first half batch of uncooked apples for 90 minutes. then you’ll remove that partially-cooked batch from the ricemaker, and add the other half of the uncooked, chopped apples, cooking those for 90 minutes on the pressure setting. once the second half-batch has completed its 90-minute cycle, you’ll be able to combine both batches in the ricemaker together, since both will have reduced considerably. stir thoroughly and set to cook for another one (or two) 90-minute pressure cycles.
- once your cooked mixture has reached the desired color and flavor concentration, you may choose (as i did) to use an immersion blender to smooth it out to a “buttery” texture.
- carefully ladle the hot apple butter into 1/2-cup jelly jars. follow the jar manufacturer’s canning instructions to preserve long-term for pantry storage, or simply place in the fridge if you intend to use in the next few weeks. the apple butter will “set up” slightly in the fridge, reaching a great spread-able consistency.
soooooooo good on toasted cinnamon-raisin bread, with a cup of yogi’s caramel apple spice snack tea….
or tied up with a pretty ribbon as a sweet fall gift!
nutritional information (per 1/4-cup serving):
- 60 calories
- 0.1 g. saturated fat
- 0.5 mg. sodium
- 6.0 mg. potassium
- 21.7 g. carbs (1.4 g. fiber, 10.2 g. sugar)
- 2.8% vitamin A, 2.7% vitamin C, 1.1% calcium, 1.4% iron