I confess – I love watching cooking videos and shows. (What did you think I was going to confess to? No need to comment on that!) I could become addicted to these cooking adventures that are so readily available to watch day and night, so I restrict myself to just one or two (okay maybe three or four) a week. And, I’ve been known to sneak one in in the early morning before hubby gets up. The trouble with watching cooking shows, for me anyway, is that they make me hungry AND if I like the recipe, I want to cook it right away.
A few days ago Laura Vitale had a video on how to make Apple Pie Bread. (I subscribe to her YouTube channel, I couldn’t help myself.) It’s a simple recipe and looks like a great way to use up a few apples. However, it uses apple butter in the recipe. I don’t have apple butter, so I need to make some in order to make the apple pie bread. Well, I could go to the store and buy some, but it’s much more fun to make it.
Preparing homemade apple butter is actually a good thing because a neighbor’s Fiji apple tree overproduced this year and she was sharing bags of apples, which I was a recipient of. After making several large batches of applesauce I was looking for a way to use up the rest of the apples.
Wash the apples. While the skin on some didn’t look pretty, these Fujis are tasty.
I found out it takes a lot of apples to make the six pounds needed for this recipe. Now could I have cut the recipe in half? Of course, but I had the apples, so I made a full batch.
The recipe calls for chunks of apples. Since I have my handy-dandy apple corer and peeler, whenever I have to peel more than a few apples, I use it because it is faster and easier than peeling and coring apples by hand. So these aren’t exactly chunks of apples, they are more like slices, but I don’t think it matters because they are going to be blended into pulp in the end. It may just change the cooking time a little since they will cook a little quicker. Dump all ingredients into the crockpot and ‘Fuhgeddaboudit‘ (Italian style) or American saying “forget-about-it”, because once you are done with this step, the apples cook on low for 8-10 hours.Laura suggests cooking the apples overnight which I did. When we woke up the next morning, the house smelled like fresh-out-of-the-oven apple pie. What a great way to start the day! You know, your sense of smell does have an effect on you. It’s so subtle, yet powerful. Like when a waft of spring flowers hits you, memories come flooding back about a time when…. An interesting article on smell and memory from The Fifth Sense.
Once the apples have cooked down, puree them in the crockpot with an immersion blender. If you don’t have one, use a regular blender and then add the puree back into the crockpot for continued cooking.
Cook mixture in the crockpot for a couple more hours until it reaches the right thickness (remember it will thicken more as it cools). Depending on the heat of your device it could take 3-4 more hours. Making this on a beautiful Fall day just filled the house with a wonderful aroma and added to the Fall atmosphere.
Okay, so you have made a nice big batch of apple butter, now what? Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do with it – use what I need to make the Apple Pie Bread which is the original reason I made this apple butter! One way to preserve this apple butter is to freeze it. Since our freezer is a little full right now (storing all those tomatoes and zucchini we grew this summer), I’m going to fill canning jars to give some away as gifts. Yay! It will also store nicely in the fridge for several weeks.
- 6 pounds apples (several varieties to mix sweet and not so sweet), cored, peeled and chunked
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
- zest from one orange
- Put all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on slow for 8 to 10 hours. (If using vanilla extract instead of vanilla paste, add it at the end of cooking.)
- Once cooked down, puree with an immersion blender and continue to cook with cover slightly ajar for about three hours until thickened.
- Remove from crockpot and store in airtight containers in the fridge, or prep for freezing, or put in water bath to can the apple butter in small jars.