October 10th, 2012
I love apple butter, and I love my slow cooker, too. Lucky for me, they work well together.
You throw apples and some spices into a crock pot in the morning (or before bed), your house smells amazing for 10 hours, and you scoop out a sweet and spicy, dark amber spread that makes anything it touches more delicious.
This easy recipe is an adaptation of my original slow cooker apple butter. Though more heavily spiced, this chai-inspired version is my new go-to thanks to its incredible depth of flavor. If you prefer mulled cider to plain, then this is your new go-to apple butter, too.
Be forewarned: it may seem like there is too much black pepper when you first try this, at least for the kids. Once the flavor settles, though, it hits just the right note, even for little ones who will likely eat this in combination with oatmeal, toast, yogurt or other foods that absorb flavor.
As for me, I eat this right off the spoon to feel the light bite of fall.
Slow Cooker Chai-Spiced Apple Butter
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
makes about 5 cups
12 medium apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped (into about 16 pieces each)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Combine all ingredients in a 5-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours, until the apples have completely broken down into a dark brown butter.
2. Uncover and break up any large, soft pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Allow to cool and place in an airtight container to store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or follow canning procedures to process in sterilized jars. Properly canned apple butter can be stored in a dark spot at room temperature for up to a year.
*Note: This can be shared as is for eaters as young as 6-months-old, just keep in mind that apple butter is not interchangeable with apple sauce. It is a concentrated sauce that has a much stronger flavors and higher sugar content. A little bit mixed into plain yogurt or baby cereal goes a long way with little ones.