The kids and I went apple picking last weekend. It was a perfect Michigan fall day with the fall colors bright against the blue, sunny skies. We brought home a whole bushel of juicy, ripe apples.But the thing about picking apples with a six and ten year-old boy is that they turn it into a sport, launching fruit into the bag like it’s a baseball. So when I went through the apples at home, I found a lot of them were bruised. They weren’t going to keep very long after being used to play catch.
So what do you do when life gives you a bunch of less than perfect apples? After I had a moment of silence for all the fresh, crunchy apples I thought I’d eat, I decided to salvage the them by making apple butter. Apple butter is very forgiving and doesn’t mind blemishes, ugly or even sour apples. If you don’t have a fruit picking mishap like I did, your local orchard or farm market may sell you the seconds that they can’t display at a discount. Just ask!
Making apple butter in a crockpot is about as easy as it gets. All you need to do it peel, core and cube your apples. Then put them in the crockpot, mix in the sugar and spices and let it all cook for 13 hours. I cooked it overnight, and we woke up to the most amazing smell the next morning. Once the apple butter is finished cooking, pour it into a blender and puree it for a few seconds. That gives the butter a smooth texture. Next, spoon it into freezer containers or mason jars and store in the freezer. Once you thaw and open it, keep it refrigerated.Apple butter is delicious on a simple piece of toast, biscuits and can even be used to top pancakes. Also try using it as a sauce for pork chops or flavoring in BBQ sauce.
Crockpot Apple Butter Recipe
5 1/2 lbs apples
4 cups sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
Peel, core and cube apples. Place in crockpot. Stir together sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour over apples and mix. Cook on high in crockpot or one hour. Turn heat down to low and cook for 11 additional hours. Uncover and cook on low for one more hour. Remove apple butter from crockpot and puree in a blender until smooth. Spoon into containers and freeze to store.