Simple Apple Butter

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I’ve owned the same slow cooker for many years (more than 15, in fact) and I absolutely love the ease of using it to make soups and stews. Little known fact, but it’s also a great way to make fruit sauces and butter.

One of my favorites to make during fall is apple butter. Perfect for the season, you just need a bushel of freshly picked apples – and a lot of time.

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If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can make apple butter in a large pot on the stove. You won’t need to cook them as long, probably just a few hours, but you will need to check on the apples frequently and stir periodically, adding water when needed to make sure they don’t burn.

Not necessary, but a totally handy tool to have when making apple butter (or applesauce), is a food mill. It creates a smooth apple butter, and takes out any errant seeds or pieces of skin.

I don’t usually add any sweetener to my apple butter before cooking. Instead, I like to taste it when it’s done and add some pure maple syrup or another sweetener, if needed. Most apples are very sweet to begin with and won’t need much.

I love to use honey crisp apples for this recipe, as they’re my favorite local variety, but any apple will work.

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Recipe for Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Makes about 2 pints

8-10 large apples, cored and sliced into quarters (or enough to fill your slow cooker; if you don’t have a food mill, make sure to peel them first)
1 cup apple cider
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 vanilla bean, split in half (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
1/2 cup maple syrup (you might want more if you prefer it sweeter; you could also use honey, organic sugar or brown sugar)


  1. Place apples, apple cider, and lemon juice into slow cooker and turn on low. Add vanilla bean and cook for 18-24 hours. Allow to cool and remove vanilla bean, reserving for another use.
  2. Pour cooked apples into food mill and place over a bowl. Allow excess liquid to drain (discard or keep for another use).
  3. Pass the apples through the food mill into a large bowl, and add cinnamon and sweetener. Mix well.
  4. Taste your apple butter. If you like it as is, go ahead and spoon it into your prepared jar(s).

This recipe makes about 2 pints, and will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen in plastic bags or containers. Enjoy with toast, pancakes, mixed into yogurt, or any other way you’d use a jam or fruit spread.

Photo Credit: Winnie Abramson

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