There is nothing better than freshly picked fruit. I love PYO – Pick Your Own – events at our local farms. They are a perfect activity for friends and family that gets everyone outside and into the nature. These PYO activities support local farms, and provide a cheaper access to perfectly ripe fresh fruit. I also love them for one selfish reason – I am shameless when it comes to taste tasting as I pick and can’t resist biting into an amazing piece of fruit I just picked. Honestly, who could?
The last PYO days are slowly unfolding around me, and I grabbed an opportunity to go pick some apples. The loot included six different varieties, Granny Smith, Jonagold, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Fuji and Empire, and was destined for couple of different things, including a huge batch of apple butter. For the apple butter I used couple of Granny Smith’s, Fuji’s, and Jonagolds. I used my slowcooker (crockpot) to cook the butter since it is really totally hands of – you plug it and forget it for about 10-12 hours. The best time to start cooking is the evening, because your butter can cook overnight and you will wake up to a house that is full of rich aromas.
Those aromas are mostly due to a nice mix of spices that’s make the flavor of this butter. I combined lots of ground cinnamon, some allspice and a bit of nutmeg. There are a lot of apples in this recipe so they drop need lots of spice to make the flavors rich and deep. You could change the spice makeup if you like. Alternative spices to try would be ground ginger, ground cloves, vanilla beans, and/or orange peel.
If you are reading this and wondering to yourself “What is apple butter?”, first of all thank you for being patient, and second, apple butter is sort of apple marmalade or apple jam. It’s thick – thicker than apple sauce – and smooth. It is a perfect breakfast item, for toast, pancakes or waffles, and although I have not tried it I bet it can work great as an ice cream topping! It can be made much sweeter depending on the variety of apples you use, and by adding sugar to it. This recipe does not use any sugar and adding Granny Smith to the mix of apples I used makes the final product just slightly tart.
Spice Infused Apple Butter
What you’ll need:
(If using a 6 QT (5.7 L) crockpot – adjust the amount depending on the size of your crock!!!)
6 lbs (2.5-3 kg) apples
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
What you’ll do:
- Wash, dry, peel and core your apples. This will be quite a project so arm yourself with patience, enlist help of your friends and family, or get a peeler/corer/slicer device. I can recommend the KitchenAid standing mixer attachment that does all this for you, but it comes with a high price tag. It’s not essential, but it does help a great deal. Whether you peel the apples it is actually up to you. I wanted a really smooth butter texture so decided to peel them this time around.
- Slice the apples and put them a really large mixing bowl. Add the spices and mix well, so that the spices are evenly distributed all over your apples.
- Line the crockpot with the crockpot liner (if using – I use it becasue it make cleanup a breeze, but it is not essential). Arrange the apples, put the lid on and turn your slow cooker to 10 to 12 hours. If you have a slow cooker that allows you to select the level of heat, I recommend cooking the apple butter on high.
- Let the apples cool before handling further. Transfer the cooked apples into a large bowl and use a stick (immersion) blender to purée the apples into a smooth apple butter. If you don’t have an immersion blender, your regular blender will work but you will have to blend in batches.
- Since I am not an expert in canning, I packed my apple butter in two nice big jars, one to give away one to keep. I store my apple butter in the fridge but if you do know how to can things I bet you can make the apple butter, can it and keep it for months.
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017