Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kat's California Apple Butter - Slow Cooker Style

One sunny Saturday afternoon, my husband and I decided to pick apples... too bad the closest apple orchard was an hour and a half away. By the time we arrived, most of the trees had been picked and all that remained were the worm-holed and the rotten. Still determined to have a good time, we grabbed our 3lb. bag (does anyone else think 3lbs for $15 is WAY to much?!) and scoured the quarter acre for good apples.

We heard a couple next to us say, "Why did we pay $15 to pick rotten apples?" and after 15 minutes of finding nothing, I was starting to feel the same way. One of the workers at the orchard could tell we were getting frustrated and pointed out that the apples that fall onto the ground aren't always bad. Even if you see a hole, if it's not squishy when you press into it, it's fine. After scouring under the trees, we did end up finding a lot of apples that were pretty good. We went home and the apple butter makin' was underway (ok, technically we waited two weeks but we were busy... with... stuff... ahem...).

First thing's first: if you're using a brand new slow cooker straight out of the box, remember to remove the cardboard around the base of the pot. If you don't, you might smell burning. I gotta learn things the hard way, I guess!

Second: Whenever you're dealing with apples, either for cakes, pies, or apple butter, always use an apple peeler (I bought this one for $13.29 but it looks like Amazon has raised the price since then). It. Works. Wonders. You'll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and maybe a finger or two since it peels, cores, and slices at the same time. My husband didn't believe me until I showed him and he was astonished by the engineering of the little machine. If you don't believe me, here's a little video showing how it works (and you don't have to hold it down, there's a suction cup on the bottom, I just wanted to be extra careful):

I followed this recipe by Jamie at My Baking Addiction but since I only had half the amount of apples the recipe called for, I cut the recipe in half (1/2C of sugar instead of 1C, 1/8t ground cloves, etc.).

Here's what it looked like when I first turned on the slow cooker (the 0 hour mark):

Here's what it looked like after 6 hours in the slow cooker:

Here's what it looked like after 10 hours, after I added the vanilla (note: at this point, your house will smell ah-may-zing!)

So after 12 hours, the instructions call for using an immersion blender, but I don't have one of those, so I improvised by pouring the apple mixture into a bowl and used my hand mixer (thought using it in the slow cooker might be a bad idea). Once pureed, into the mason jars they went! I guess 3lbs. of apples equals 8 4oz mason jars -

Apples = $15 for 3lbs. at Riley's Apple Farm

Mason Jars = $10 for 12 4 oz. Ball mason jars

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: 12 hours, 50 minutes
25 minutes to peel, core, and slice 3 lbs. of apples
10 minutes to add ingredients
12 hours to cook
15 minutes to puree, pour mixture into jars, and write labels

EASY-PEASY SCALE: 2 out of 5
Another easy recipe - the only hard-ish part is preparing the apples and having the patience to wait 12 hours!

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