fat free opinions on a food centric life

Apple Butter

I’ve been wanting to make apple butter since last fall and knew when I saw the Rome Beauties at the market the other day, now was the time.  I don’t often see Romes here, but when I do, I think of all the lovely things I might cook, because they’re the perfect apple to cook with.  Their somewhat mild flavor intensifies richly with cooking.

Why apple butter?  Why not apple pie, or apple cobbler, baked apples, a pandowdy, buckle, or slump?

Outside of apple butter being another thing I can check off my “Made it Myself” list which threatens my sanity from time to time, it’s a flavorful fat-free substitute for butter on my morning toast.  Once in the habit, you don’t miss the butter.  I like to stir it into oatmeal or hot Grape Nuts instead of milk and sugar, and it swirls nicely into a cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of granola.

When I started looking for a recipe, I was surprised to find most were loaded with sugar — sometimes as much as four cups.  I found one that contains far less and you can make it in the slow cooker like I did, or on the stove in far less time.

Make it on a chilly day when you want the whole house to smell sweet and spicy.  You’ll have the people you love wanting to know what you’re cooking.

Apple Butter

1 c. dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. honey

2 T rice vinegar

1/4 c. water

1 lg. cinnamon stick

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/8 tsp. ground mace

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

2-1/4 lb. Rome Beauties (4 lb.)

Core the apples and cut into large chunks.  Add the apples along with all other ingredients to the bowl of a large slow cooker.  Cover it and cook on low for 10 hours.

Once apples are softened, discard the cinnamon stick and scoop apples with a slotted spoon into a mesh strainer.  With the back of a spoon or spatula, mash the apples to extract fruit as possible.  Discard the remaining pulp.

Return the strained contents to the slow cooker and mix with whatever remaining juice is left.  Cook for an additional 1-1/2 hours on high, stirring from time to time.

Scrape apple butter into a sealable container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

rome beauties are best
chop them up, but go ahead and leave the peelings on

add a cinnamon stick & honey (thanks, Becky!)

a pinch of smidgen dash

put everything in the bowl

give it a good stir before you put the lid on

slow cooked 10 hours

makes 24 oz. of spicy sweet tart apple butter

slather it on your morning toast

Notes:

  • This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light’s “Overnight Apple Butter.” To view the stovetop variation, click the link.
  • Historically, apple butter was made simply by poaching apples in apple cider.  I didn’t have apple cider, and quite frankly didn’t want to add more sugar, so used a bit of vinegar and water instead.
  • I left the peelings on the apples, because if I can, I usually do.  I can’t stand getting rid of all those nutrients and I love the texture.
  • Speaking of texture, I used a chinois to strain the apple butter and was left with not much in the way of pulp, so ended up adding that back to the mixture.  The peelings had cooked nearly completely down so it made sense.
  • After the final cook on high, I allowed the mixture to cool down completely in the slow cooker.  By this morning, it was a nice consistency with a delicious sweet tart flavor that was perfect on my toast.
  • If you’d like to know how to properly can apple butter, then Elise of Simply Recipes has an outstanding post on making and canning.

For further consideration:

  • To be honest, not much goes into this recipe, but I did pay $1.99/lb. for the Rome Beauties which cost nearly $5.00.  I ended up with three 8-oz. containers of apple butter.
  • The apple butter I’ve been purchasing (R.W. Knudsen Family Organic Apple Butter) — and no I’m not being paid to say it — comes in a 16 oz. jar and sells for under $4.00.  There are only two ingredients in their apple butter:  apples and apple juice concentrate.  It’s velvety smooth, a deep caramel color, and quite delicious.
  • In a taste comparison test, the spices in the recipe I made are subtle in flavor, but do make a difference.  And there’s a slight tang I also like.  Does that mean I’ll make my own apple butter when I run out?  Not necessarily. But it’s a great recipe — more than just something to check off my list.
  • Now, I’m wondering about apple butter swirl gelato…and I have a gelato recipe that isn’t swimming in fat.