If you like recipes, I have several for you this week. Today's is on making apple butter in your crock pot.
Lately I've been using my crock pot a lot to prepare meals ahead of time. I didn't realize how much time I spent standing in front of an open fridge and not liking anything I saw. It takes all the thinking out of it -- I just eat what I've already made in the crock pot. I can also eat it for multiple meals.
If you don't have a crock pot, the holiday season is a good time to pick one or several up. For this recipe, it takes all the work, heat, and mess out of making apple butter on the stove. If you've ever canned before, you know how much work it can be. And since we're still having 90 degree days in Phoenix, it beats having to turn on the oven.
This recipe is easy and it's near-impossible to mess it up.
For this recipe, I used several pounds of organic apples, peeled. They are in season and inexpensive right now. Conventional apples are generally pesticide laden so I always buy organic apples.
I saw recipes that included the skin but I preferred mine peeled.
If you have an apple corer you can use it to cut your apples into neat slices. I just used my kitchen knife to cut the apples away from the core. They are going to cook into mush so don't worry if yours aren't perfectly formed. Place them into your crock pot dish.
I added this apple cider from Knudsen's. It's 100% juice and no sugar added. I put a couple of cups in, just enough to prevent the apples from sticking to the bottom of the dish.
I also added organic raw honey, fresh grated orange peel, ground ginger, allspice, cloves (take it easy on these -- they will overpower the flavor), and cinnamon, all ground, from Penzey's Spices. I used several tablespoons of cinnamon, just a teaspoon of cloves, and added the ginger and added a few pinches of the ginger and allspice. It's hard to use too much cinnamon, but don't overseason with the rest of the spices. As the mixture cools down it will reduce and the flavors will be more concentrated. It's better to add more later.
Fold the mixture until the ingredients are distributed throughout. The main idea here is to make sure the spices aren't all sitting right on top.
Turn your crock pot on high and let the ingredients cook for two or three hours. Your house will smell awesome! The mixture will cook down to look something like this:
I used an immersion blender, but if you don't have one, you can use a blender or a food processor to puree the mixture until it looks like this:
If you have to remove the mixture from the crock pot, be sure to wear mitts or otherwise protect your hands, arms and eyes from splatter while you're transferring it.
At this point, it's a good time to taste yours and see if it needs re-seasoning. You can add more spices, honey or maple syrup if necessary.
Continue cooking the mixture until it is thick in consistency. You can remove the lid to the crock pot or you can leave it partially open and it will still cook down.
I added several tablespoons of grass fed butter after it cooked down and was still warm. This was a very nice touch and brought all the flavors together with a smooth taste. If you're strict paleo, leave the butter out at the end.
You can also try adding almond extract, vanilla extract, orange or lemon extract and they would be amazing flavors in the apple butter.
Here's what mine looked like after it was finished cooking:
This turned out really good and was delicious. I couldn't believe how easy it was and the flavors are amazing. This would go great with your Thanksgiving feast or on paleo biscuits.
Let me know how yours turns out!
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