Monday, September 26, 2011

Healthy, fresh, oh-so-good apple butter

Perfect, sweet, local Cortland apples. Good enough to eat raw every single day, but as I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to try my hand at apple butter.

I'd found a recipe on one of my favorite healthy-eating blogs (Eating Bird Food, which I've mentioned here before), and it sounded so good, so fall-like, and so easy, that I had to try it.

The only part that made me a little nervous was that it called for the apples to be cooked in the crock pot for 15 hours. Fifteen?! I cross-referenced the idea in a Fix-It and Forget-It cookbook, and sure enough, all apple butter recipes called for it to be cooked for 15-18 hours. Wow! Knowing my crock pot tends to run a little hot, I was still nervous, but I put on my game face and gave it a try.

The recipe is very simple and very easy. I was especially drawn to the fact that it has no added sugar, so it's very healthy.

Healthy Homemade Apple Butter
From Eating Bird Food

10 medium-sized apples (I used Cortland. Pick a sweet variety, since there's no extra sugar.)
2 cups unsweetened apple juice (I used R.W. Knudsen's organic 100% apple juice)
1/4 cup water
1/4 apple cider vinegar
1 T cinnamon
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt

1. Place cored and sliced apples (not peeled—easy!) into a crock pot/slow cooker. (Mine's a smaller-variety crock pot.)
2. Pour juice on top of the sliced apples. Add water, vinegar, and spices. Stir all ingredients together, cover the pot, and let it cook on low for 15 hours.
3. The liquid and the apples will reduce to about 1/2 their original volume. They'll be very soft and dark. Turn the crock pot off and let it cool down for about 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
4. Let it cool, then transfer into storage containers. My batch only made about 2 full pints of apple butter, so it's not a huge recipe. Store in the fridge for a few weeks, or freeze for later!

As I said, my crockpot is on the smaller side, so 10 apples filled it.
I started the batch at about 5:00 p.m. on Saturday evening, so it finished at 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning. It smelled wonderfully after just an hour or two, so it really started driving me crazy. I always get a little nervous about letting something cook overnight, wondering what the state of my kitchen counter will be when I wake up, and that, combined with the scent that filled the house, meant I had a really restless night of sleep. I was awake every two hours.

Thankfully, the smoke alarm never went off, everything stayed in the pot, and it turned out perfectly. (Hooray!) This is how the apples looked when I woke up:
After a quick whir in the blender, I had two pints of perfect, delicious, healthy apple butter. It's a little more tart than what you'll find in a store, but it really doesn't need any sugar added. By choosing a sweet variety of apple, it's plenty sweet on its own. 
It's so good, I have to really resist standing by the fridge and just eating it out of the jar with a spoon.
Now I'm trying to think of all the ways I can eat it. Spreading it on toast or biscuits is an easy answer. I stirred it into my hot cereal this morning, and that worked very well.

Any other suggestions? How do you like to eat apple butter?


  1. In the making and excited for the outcome!

  2. Can't wait to hear how you like it! What kind of apples did you use?