Preserving – Apple Butter

William and I picking our apples.

When I was a little girl, I saw a cartoon about Johnny Appleseed and spent the next several months “planting” the seeds of every apple I ate.  Apparently one took, and my sharp-eyed farmer grandfather spotted it in one of my mom’s flower beds.

He transplanted it to a more reasonable area, and to my family’s suprise it grew!  It has produced apples for the last 15 or more years, but they are usually inedible.

The earliest ones were rock hard and tasteless, probably due to not having any cross-pollination with other apple trees.

Recently they have become more crisp than hard, and gained some sweetness as well. They are still quite sharp tasting, but I thought they might be good for preserves.

We cleaned, peeled and cored the apples using an apple peeler gadget and ended up with one and a half large zip lock bags each of apple pieces, and cores with peels which we stored in the freezer.

I’m planning on making apple jelly from the cores and peels in the future.

This smell of this recipe simmering away will have your neighbours and family convinced you on a 10 hour apple pie baking binge.

Apple Butter
1 1/2 large zip lock bags of frozen apple pieces – I’m hoping that’s about 5 pounds
2 cups apple cider
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoon cinnamon
1 bundle of cloves, about 8 wrapped in gauze and tied up

Apple butter ingredients.

Place all the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours.

Apple butter ingredients in the cooker.

Stir well and and cook for 2 hours on high.

Apple butter after 2 hours on high.

Stir and set time to low for 7 hours.  Prop open the lid a bit with a wooden skewer or chopstick, so the butter can evaporate and thicken.  You can stir periodically – I can’t resist checking on it often.

Apple butter after 3 more hours at low.

Overall, the original sliced apples reduced in volume from having the crock filled to the brim at the start, to filling the crock about 3/4 full.

Fully cooked apple butter!

I went against a lot of the advice in the books I’ve read and did what I describe as “jazz canning” (as in most of it was improvised).  I’m not ready to invest in equipment yet, though canning doesn’t require a huge investment.  This month, given our recent (successful but pricey) visits to the vet for our cat Smokey, we weren’t ready to make canning purchases!

Canning rack fabricated by my canning assistant.

I didn’t even have canning tongs (forget to borrow my father’s set) but I have a sturdy canning assistant, a few sets of tongs and determination.  I figure if our great-grandmothers canned without specialized equiment and lived to tell about it, I could try to do the same.

Filling jars with improvised canning funnel.

Fill your jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  If you don’t know how to do this, you certainly don’t need me to tell you how after my vast experience of doing it once – I would recommend any good basic canning book, or Canning 101 on Simple Bites for help.

Completed jars, cooling happily!

The moral of the story – never let finances, a lack of proper equipment, or regard for safety standards prevent you from doing what you want with food!

I also found the cutest site for customizing your own jam labels – you add your info and save as a .jpg or print – from JamLabelizer!  Here is mine:


4 thoughts on “Preserving – Apple Butter”

    1. I was impressed with how well it turned out – my first try at fruit butter – couldn’t have done it without Will’s clever solutions to our lack of equipment!

  1. What a fantastic idea ! I loved the story and all the photos with description ! Way to go !!!
    Linda (your Mother’s friend in River Trail cottages) 😉

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