Since money is tight and the holidays are right around the corner, I will canning several jars of assorted fruit butters to give as gifts this Christmas. In my opinion, homemade makes the best gifts anyway.
The following was a recipe my grandmother gave to me and that I have now passed down to my own daughter. As you can see from the title, my grandmother probably received the recipe from her own mother and it possibly dates back even more generations. What a treasure!
Mother's Baked Apple Butter
8 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 cups water
1 cup cider
5 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves
Cook the apples in water until soft, then push through a colander until smooth. Add remained ingredients and cook in a slow oven (275 deg) for 8 hours, stirring every half hour. Seal in hot sterilized jars. Makes approximately 5 pints or 3 quarts, depending on the size of the apples.
The first time I made apple butter, I used this recipe and followed the instructions exactly. But by the time I got around to making it again, I had taken a full-time job and my weekends were filled up with errands and chores. So I decided to try and adapt the recipe to a crockpot.
I peeled and cored the apples and then sliced them as thinly as possible. I lightly buttered the bottom and about two inches up the sides of my crockpot to make sure nothing would stick. Then I measured all the spices and combined them with the sugar and set them aside. I started by lining the bottom of the crockpot with a single layer of apple slices and sprinkled about 1/2 cup of the sugar and spice mixture over the top of the fruit. I layered more apples on top of the first layer and sprinkled another 1/2 cup of the sugar and spice mixture over the top of that layer. I continued this process until all the apples were in the crockpot.
With 8 apples, I was able to make approximately 8 layers and ended up with about 1 cup of the sugar and spice mixture left over. In a separate pan on the stove, I heated the cider and water to a boil and then removed the pan from the heat. I immediately added the remaining sugar and spice mixture, stirring constantly until it was well dissolved. I then poured the hot water and cider into the crockpot and turned it on low. I let it cook in the crockpot overnight for approximately 12 hours. I only stirred it twice while it was cooking, once after it had cooked about 8 hours and again about an hour before I decided it was ready.
A crockpot produces a moister heat than an oven and the apple butter came out wonderful. My grandmother had been skeptical when I first told her I was going to modify the method of the recipe. But even she was amazed at the good results.