The apple butter of my youth was thick and chunky. We would eat it on homemade bread—sometimes over top of butter. How’s that for velvety smooth? Still, when I decided to make my own apple butter, I wanted something different. I wanted the apples to shine instead of the spice profile.
Was there a way to savor that gooey goodness with just a hint of cinnamon?
Thank you, Google. I found a recipe for this beautiful, aesthetically pleasing Naked Apple Butter. The creamy color was very appealing. Yet…did I want to abandon tradition completely? I found this recipe, which looked a lot like Grandma’s (only less chunky). Was there a middle ground?
I decided to try to make one.
What I used:
8 lbs. of apples. I used our red delicious because of their sudden abundance. But they were in varying stages of ripe, so I had tart and sweet. 8 lbs. were all I could fit in my slow cooker. And it was tight.
1 tsp. of cinnamon
¾ tsp. of nutmeg
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
½ cup of apple juice. Ok, so I used bourbon. Ever since I made this pie, I’ve loved apples with bourbon. Jeff and I do not drink the stuff, but we have a small stock amassed due to the kindness of friends who think we do. Apparently, whiskey is a great hostess gift. I keep it in the cabinet above my refrigerator. Beside the Yankee candle storage. I wonder if there is cross contamination. Anyway, this liquid is to help reduce the apples sticking to the side of the crock. And (in the case of the bourbon) add flavor.
3-4 fresh cayenne peppers (because I have so many from the garden right now).
1 tsp. salt
Juice of one lemon
Equipment: slow cooker, blender, apple corer, potato masher, canning supplies (if canning)
Wash apples. And use the corer to slice them up. No need to peel. I borrowed this idea from the Naked Apple Butter recipe. I liked the idea of the peel adding some fiber.
|I love my apple corer.|
Combine sugars and spices and toss apples in the mixture to coat. Put apples in slow cooker and cook on high for four hours, stirring occasionally so the apples don’t stick. After four hours, add bourbon (or juice) and vanilla. Cook another hour on high.
At this point, the apples should be soft enough to mash with the potato masher. Break them down as good as you can. You have made apple sauce. Cool slightly and then blend the apples in your blender until silky smooth. This will chop up those skins so no one will even have to know they are in there. At this point, I added my cayenne peppers and pulverized them into the apple mixture.
Cook on low for an additional two hours, stirring occasionally. In the last hour, I added the salt, lemon juice and honey to taste. If the apple butter is too spicy for your taste (mine was at first), add honey in parts to counter the heat. I ended up using about a quarter cup of honey, but my apple butter still had a lot of heat when done. Which I love. But not everyone will.
If canning, follow these directions for a hot water bath. I processed for ten minutes.
My butter came out a beautiful, silky smooth, caramel color.
And taste? It’s not your grandma’s apple butter.