One of the joys of country life is the ability to harvest apples from my own tree to make apple butter each fall. Some years, though, the crop is thin. Or I get a bee in my bonnet about making hard cider or apple pie filling, and use the whole crop up before any turns into apple butter. For those times, and for those who do not have an apple tree in their back yard, here is a recipe that turns out a delicious apple butter in a day in your crock pot.
32 cups apple sauce
2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon or apple pie spice, which I prefer
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
4 cups sugar or sugar substitute
Pint-size canning jars (roughly 10).
Assuming you have a standard six-quart crock pot, you will want about eight quarts of applesauce. For those who did not do well at math in high school, that is 32 cups. If you can only find the “standard” 15-ounce jars of applesauce, this means roughly 17 jars. I try to buy in larger quantities.
Fill the crock pot to within an inch of the top with applesauce, then add the spices and two cups of the sugar. Set the crock pot on low heat. Cover it loosely with tin foil, with a small slit cut in it for steam to escape. Leave it to cook for 12-18 hours, stirring occasionally. I usually let it sit overnight. And technically you don’t need to stir it at all, but I have yet to see anyone make this recipe without having an insane desire to stir it. So please help yourself.
After the applesauce has cooked all night, it will have reduced in volume by about half. In the morning, add the rest of the applesauce and the other 2 cups of sugar. If the apple sauce has burned in the pot, pour off the applesauce mix, clean the burned stuff out, pour the mix back in and continue…on LOW heat this time!
Wash and dry the canning jars. Gently fill the jars with apple butter, wipe the rims and put on the caps. Process in a hot water bath for about 8 minutes. Enjoy for up to a year.