Fall means apple orchards, hot apple cider and apple dumplings. But one of my new fall favorites to make for family and friends is Naked Apple Butter, a healthier version of a well-loved classic.
My problem with store-bought apple butter has always been the amount of unnecessary ingredients, including sugars. The more ingredients added, the more the crisp, fresh apple flavor is covered up.
Fruits have their own sugars, and in a fruit butter, sugar is not usually needed. As the apples cook down, their natural sugars increase the sweetness without the need for extra sugar or honey.
Other than apples, my recipe calls for only three simple ingredients: a sprinkle of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and a splash of fresh lemon juice. You won't taste the lemon juice per se, but it does increase the shelf life of any jars you preserve.
Naked Apple Butter
What you'll need:
- 5- 8 oz. canning jars, rings and lids, sterilized
- 12 medium apples (I used Jonathan and McIntosh from a local farm)
- 2 tbs. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
- Slow cooker
- Tall stock pot
- Canning labels
Rinse and let fresh apples dry. Peel and core, and slice into chunks.
Place into slow cooker, cover and turn on high.
Let your apples cook away for about four hours.
At the 4-hour mark, peep in and stir the apples around. Put the lid back on and turn cooker down to low for two more hours.
When two hours is up, check in on apples and stir. Repeat this until apples have been cooking for a combined eight hours.
At the 8-hour mark, add your spices and lemon juice, stir and cover.
Stir again at the 10-hour mark. I generally cook the apples down for about 12 hours.
About 30 minutes before your apples are ready, sterilize your jars (if you already haven't.) Set the jars and rings aside in a clean area.
Fill your tall stock pot with water, about 6 inches deep, and heat until just boiling. This will be the water bath for your jars filled with apple butter
Put the lids into a small saucepan of water and heat on medium. This will keep the seal on the inside soft and easier to adhere.
Once you are ready to fill the jars, stir and mash your slow cooker contents with a potato masher to create a consistently smooth texture.
Fill your clean jars with the finished apple butter, leaving about ½ of an inch at the top. Run a rubber spatula around the inside of the jar to release any air bubbles. Clean your jar edges with a paper towel if you have any spills for a good seal.
Pull the rings out of the hot water, shake dry and place on top of each jar. Screw the rings on. Make sure you don't tighten the jars all the way. Leave them a tiny bit loose, just until you feel some resistance. This will help the air escape once you put the jars into the water bath.
Once your jars are filled and lids and rings have been placed on them, place them into your tall stock pot of water that should by now be boiling.
Make sure you check the water level. If the water does not cover the jars by 1-2 inches, add boiling water as needed.
Bring to a rolling boil, cover the pot, and boil for 10 minutes. Then let cool for 10 minutes before removing the jars from the pot.
Label and let cool, serve with toast, pancakes or give to friends and family. Apple butter's shelf life is approximately six months, but as delicious as it is, I'm sure it won't last that long!
Twinkle VanWinkle ponders, creates and discovers cool stuff about music, movies, food, fashion and so forth. Her thoughtful writings and interactives give great advice about healthy food, cooking tips, DIY projects, fashion and more. She'll teach you a thing or two about music as well. Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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