Fall is all about apples and pumpkins. We are well aware that pumpkin spice has taken over, considering it covers store shelves, every coffee shop has a latte, and pumpkin recipes abound online. Apples are catching up though, their craze isn’t quite as widespread as pumpkin spice yet, but it is getting there.
I am certainly not complaining either way. Fall food season is so short-lived, why not go overboard?
As much as I love apple desserts (I am looking at you pastries), I especially love them in their original form. With just a hint of spice and sweetness, really letting the crisp apple flavor shine through.
Which is why I adore apple butter. It is such a genuinely apple-y dish, containing just the right amount of ingredients to bring out the flavor without overpowering its natural form.
I feel like apple butter used to be a thing back in the day. My parents always talk about enjoying it when they were kids, and I do recall my grandparents having it around, but it sort of disappeared for a while there. Is this a generational thing? Perhaps my fellow 80’s and 90’s youth cast it aside assuming it was far too time consuming.
Well, do I have a surprise for you. It is not time-consuming, (not in the way you think), nor difficult, so it is not worth any impatient assumptions. In fact, it is incredibly simple and versatile. Simple in that you literally slice up some apples, toss in some liquid and spices, and let it cook. And versatile in that you can use it for SO MANY things. See our recipe notes for our favorite uses.
If you are pressed for time, or still impatient despite my encouragements otherwise (ahem this would be me), you can actually cook this baby up on the stove top in about 2 hours. Who knew right? The smell is incredibly intoxicating, beating any fall scented candle, and only requires you stirring the ingredients a few times.
Or, you can select the slow cooker route, which really allows you to leave it alone. It does require longer to cook of course, which for someone who cannot stand to wait when the house smells like apple pie, becomes a bit of a challenge.
Yep, I am that impatient, ever eager, instant gratification-seeking millennial I always feared. Welcome to reality friends, we have created our own monsters.
Seriously though, I say we encourage an apple takeover. Who is with me?
- 4 pounds (about 10 large or 12 medium) mixed apples (we used Golden Delicious, Jonathan and Honeycrisp)
- ¾ cup sugar free apple cider
- Juice from half a small lemon
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or seeds scraped from one bean
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Core and slice your apples. You can peel them for a smoother butter, or keep the peels on for a chunkier version. We prefer to keep the peels on, both for texture and to maintain the nutritional benefits of the skin.
- Add apple slices, cider, lemon juice and all spices to a slow cooker, or large Dutch oven.
- If using a slow cooker, set on low for 8 hours. If cooking on the stove top, heat until bubbling, then reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook for about an hour. Stir every so often to prevent burning, about once every 20 minutes.
- Mixture is done once the apples have reduced by at least half, are a rich brown color, and thickened.
- Transfer mixture to a high powdered blender, or use a hand mixture to combine until smooth.
- Add butter back to your pot and continue cooking on low with a loose-fitting lid until it reaches your desired thickness. This will take another 2 hours in the slow cooker, or 45-60 minutes on the stove top.
- Transfer to glass jars to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days, or the freezer for up to 2 months.
**We love it with pork dishes, chops, shredded, roast, etc. Also try it on toast or as a topping for sweet potatoes.
***For dessert, it is especially tasty on ice cream.
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