This slow cooker apple butter is easy yet tastes traditional. It’s made with just apples, spice, sugar, cider, and vanilla and comes together with barely any more effort than peeling apples. Say so long to store-bought apple butter.
Simple pantry staples are slow-cooked to a smooth and seductively spicy loveliness in this apple butter recipe from chef Hugh Acheson. Guaranteed to evoke autumn each time you open the jar—which, we can assure you, will be frequently.–Renee Schettler
What Kind Of Apple To Use In This Slow Cooker Apple Butter Recipe
“Find a farm stand that sells local apples and buy a bushel. I love Arkansas Blacks, but you can use any good firm apple that you find.” That’s a plea from chef Hugh Acheson—and us—to buy local heirloom apples for this slow cooker apple butter.
The Southern legend—Acheson, not heirloom apples—has a lot more to say on the topic. “’The apple of my eye’ means something that you are enamored with and in awe of, something worthy of your love. And indeed, for me, apples from Northeast Georgia fit that bill. My heart is aflutter for the apples whose names have not been copyrighted. Arkansas Black, Winesap, Rome Beauty, Roxbury Russet, and Esopus Spitzenburg are all illustrious varietals that will join the long roster of extinct Southern apples unless we do one simple thing: buy them. Sadly, we have convinced a generation that love is cheap and always available on the supermarket shelf, with its little affixed stickers and small-print labels that whisper of faraway origins. These are commodities that have slowly pushed the local harvest to obscurity. I want to rekindle a romance.” Yeah. Exactly what he said.
Makes 144 (2-tbsp) servings | 9 pints
Special Equipment: 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker
Fill a very large bowl or stock pot with cold water and stir in the lemon juice, ascorbic acid powder, or citric acid powder.
Peel and core the apples and cut them into eighths. As you work, drop the apple pieces into the acidulated water to keep them from browning. When all the apples are peeled and cut, drain the apples and discard the water.
Place the apples in your slow cooker. Add the sugar, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, salt, vanilla, and cider, and toss well.
Turn your slow cooker to high and cook for 1 hour.
Turn the slow cooker down to low and cook for 7 1/2 to 8 hours, or until the apple butter is “jammy” in consistency. Stir regularly throughout the cooking process, and more frequently toward the end of the process. Be careful of splatters, as nothing smarts quite like hot jam. If a thicker consistency is desired, uncover the apple butter, increase the heat to high, and cook, uncovered by the lid but covered with a spatter guard, until more of the moisture evaporates, another hour or two.
If a smoother apple butter is desired, simply use your immersion blender to make it smooth.
Transfer the apple butter to sterilized canning jars of your choice—just make they are not chipped or cracked. Fill the jars to 1 inch from the top and screw on the lids and bands. Let cool for 2 hours.
Keep the apple butter in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or hot-process according to the jar manufacturer’s instructions and keep on the shelf for up to 10 months. Originally published September 13, 2015.