‘Twas the night before apple butter,
And all through the house,
The smell of apples permeated,
With the agility of a mouse.
Okay, no. But I have to say, there’s something about overnight crock pot recipes that has a certain “Twas the Night Before Christmas” feel to it. It’s that excitement, the anticipation. You’ve hung your stockings by the chimney with care, metaphorically speaking, in the hopes that you’ll awake in the morning to stew or oatmeal or, in my case, apple butter.
Yesterday, I blogged about the huge load of apples I had from this week’s CSA. Half a peck, as it turns out. For those who are inquisitive, as I am, a peck is 1/4 of a bushel, and a bushel measures 8 gallons of dry goods. Fun facts for your Tuesday.
So I took a little more than half of my half of a peck of apples, and I searched the Interwebs, and I found a great Overnight Apple Butter recipe from Cooking Light. And I thanked the good Lord for people who leave comments on recipes because these good souls advised me to cut the sugar and the honey in half to avoid overly sweet apple butter. And boy, am I glad I listened. This apple butter is sweet, but not so much that you can’t taste the spice or apples. But sweet enough, and spicy enough, that you can’t identify Red Delicious (read as Not Delicious) apples.
Red Delicious apples have been bred to enhance the redness of their skins. Typically, they are some of the most “appley” looking apples, with deep red skins. Like Snow White apples. So pretty, they should be poisonous. But all that breeding for beauty has come at the price of taste. Hmm. This seems like an allegory. Yes, we can tinker and tweak to get a pretty exterior, but when it comes at the price of what’s inside, is it really worth it? Apple breeders say yes. I say no. Oh well.
The Overnight Apple Butter recipe I used is delicious and easy. The spices in the recipe help make this have a bit of a rounded out fall flavor, really working on getting past just sweet or just apple-flavored and making it into something robust that could warm you up on a cold morning. Get someone to help you with the peeling, coring, and chopping, and the work goes by in no time.
A word about the cider in the recipe: I used an apple cider I made last weekend that I still had leftover. That cider contains apple juice concentrate, cranberry juice, Constant Comment and Chai tea brewed in, orange juice, and spices. It was what I had on hand, and I think it was a nice touch, but it doesn’t necessarily dominate the recipe. Other recipes called for using apple juice or water. You could probably use any complimentary juice, like cranberry or an apple-cranberry juice. I say use what you have and experiment.
Overnight Apple Butter
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/3 cup apple cider
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 8 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large chunks
Stir together all the ingredients in a 5 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low 10-12 hours, until apples are very tender. (Mine cooked for about 12 hours.)
Uncover the mixture and stir, then turn up the heat on the slow cooker to High. Cook, uncovered, for 1.5-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and reduced and most of the moisture has evaporated.
If you like, as I do, a smooth apple butter, ladle the whole mess into a blender (or use an immersion blender; I don’t have one) and blend until smooth. Spoon or pour into sterilized jars. Allow to cool completely before putting on sterilized lids. Keep in fridge or freezer. Enjoy!