This time of year makes me long for the smells of freshly baked bread and simmering apple butter. It makes me want to smear that freshly baked bread with that apple butter. Sigh. Do you suppose heaven smells like Grandma's kitchen in the Autumn?
Alas, we have been way too busy lately. I haven't been able to slow down and savor the season. I think someone hit the fast forward button on Life. While I fumble for the Pause button, let me pass a super easy recipe along. This apple butter method prevents problems with scorching (decidedly not one of the wonderful smells of Autumn), it is pretty much a "dump and pour" type recipe and if canning scares you, you can freeze it instead. Ahh...the smells of Autumn in a jar -- and accessible to everyone!
Angela's Crockpot Apple Butter
About 3 lbs. Apples (I try to buy local because the flavor is wonderful, but any apple will do.)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar (or to taste. You can also use honey, although I haven't tried it yet.)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves
dash sea salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup apple cider (or apple juice if you can't find cider, but cider is better)
Fill your crock pot 3/4 full of peeled, cored and sliced apples. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until mixed. Cover and cook on the low setting overnight or until the butter is a thick, spreadable consistency. I like to stir my butter periodically.
If the apple butter has too much liquid (some apples are juicier than others), just remove the lid and keep cooking until it thickens up. Once, I must have had really juicy apples because I cooked my butter for 2 days before it was thick enough. It still tasted good. The moral of this recipe interruption: don't get too worried about your butter.
For a smooth consistency, blend with a stick blender. For a chunky consistency, leave it alone. Now you are ready to jar it up.
To can: Pack into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Slap a fancy label on there and impress your friends.
To freeze: Cool the apple butter and put in freezer safe containers. If you want to use mason jars, I recommend leaving 1-2 inches headspace and freezing with the lids off. That way, if the apple butter expands too much, it will just come out the top instead of breaking your jar. Once the apple butter is fully frozen you can come back and screw on the lids. (I could tell you a sordid tale about the simultaneous death of multiple mason jars as I tried to freeze some bone broth. It is a sad tale involving a freezer full of glass shards and bone broth ice chunks, but I will spare you the details.) You could skip the glass and use plastic. Just don't tell the internet health gurus or an angry mob might come to your door. But I digress.
To eat right now: Grab a spoon and some freshly baked bread. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 6 weeks (if you can hide it from the rest of the family that long).
I highly recommend making some of this to serve at the Thanksgiving meal. People will think you slaved over a hot stove all day long. Just smile sweetly. You don't have to tell them it cooked while you slept.