Can you tell I’ve been on a slow cooker kick recently? Between making bolognese sauce in the slow cooker and rounding up 10 slow cooker recipes that I’m dying to try, you might say I’m a little bit obsessed with the idea of “set it and forget it.” So, it should come as no surprise that I decided to take three pounds of apples from the farmers’ market and make slow cooker apple butter.
I used to claim fall as my favorite season, because of one day in 2006 when I was at my first job in New York City. During my lunch breaks, I would take walks just to get out of the office and get some fresh air. New York in the summer can be kind of disgusting, what with the garbage piled on the streets and high-reaching humidity. Fall there was always, quite literally, a breath of fresh air.
I remember taking a walk on a particularly crisp day in early October and feeling hopeful and excited. I was probably excited to do things like pick apples and buy my annual bag of candy corn, bake pumpkin bread, consume copious amounts of apple butter and look forward to the holiday season.
But I was also excited about my life. I was fresh out of college, I had had a new apartment, I had recently started a new public relations job in downtown Manhattan where I was surrounded by people that both intimidated and impressed me and I was really, really naive.
I had no idea that even though life was good it could still be really, really hard at the same time and that even though life would get continually better it would also get continually harder at the same time and no one had ever really prepared me for either.
When I think of fall, that is the feeling that I think about.
But today, I really love summer.
In Chicago, we don’t quite get a spring. We have winter that slowly fades into summer, and that usually doesn’t happen until June (although sometimes, Memorial Day weekend is kind to us and delivers a 90-degree day or two).
So now, summer is the breath of fresh air that follows stifling cold, long dark gray days and citywide seasonal affective disorder. I appreciate every second of it and try to spend as much time outside as is humanly possible during these months.
This year on Labor Day, I threw a little bit of tantrum because it was cold, rainy and the weather put a kibosh on my weekend plans. Brad sat me down like a child and said, “I know you love summer, but we have three other seasons and there are fun things to do in all of them.”
He isn’t wrong. As much as I love being poolside, grilling out and eating dinner on patios and rooftop restaurants, I do like fall for the cooking and baking opportunities that lie ahead. We love pumpkin bread with cranberries, pumpkin chocolate chip squares and spiced pumpkin butter.
With three pounds of farmers’ market apples in the house, I decided that one of my first fall activities would be a batch of spiced apple butter. Instead of whipping it up in the microwave like you can with the spiced pumpkin butter, I used the slow cooker for maximum olfactory impact.
Not only is it delicious, it will make your kitchen smell amazing, makes enough for you to use for weeks and is a great thing to gift to friends or neighbors.
Spiced Apple Butter Recipe
- 3 pounds sweet apples, cored (I like Fuji or Gala)
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup water
- Slice apples into ⅓ inch slices. You can leave the skin on the apple but discard the apple cores.
- Combine the sugar, allspice, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.
- Place apples and the sugar-spice mixture in your crock pot. Add water and stir until apples are coated evenly with spices.
- Cook on low heat for nine hours or until apples are soft and begin to fall apart when stirred. Blend using an immersion blender and cook one more hour.
- Transfer into glass jars or food storage containers. Keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks