12-14 hours
makes 4-5 8-ounce jars
Instead of cooking apple butter on the stovetop or in the oven – both methods require frequent stirring to prevent scorching – use your slow cooker and walk away. Slow cooker apple butter: no burning, no fuss, and no problem.
  • 3 quarts applesauce, unsweetened, preferably homemade
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground star anise

Apple butter is the essence of autumn harvest – but typically takes hours of hard work. I prefer to use my slow-cooker (crockpot) to eliminate scorching and stirring.

fill the slow cooker

I used a 3.5 quart slow cooker. Put the applesauce and sugar into the cooker, and add cinnamon and other spices. Cover the crockpot and set on HIGH for an hour, to warm it up, and then prop open the lid and set it to LOW.

cook and evaporate for hours

If the lid remains on the cooker, the applesauce won’t reduce, so you need a method to prop the lid open. I lay two chopsticks across the pot, and then put the lid on top, leaving about a half-inch space. Leave the slow cooker to do its work for 8-10 hours. Check the consistency – most likely you will note that the applesauce has darkened significantly, but it may still be too loose. Stir the apples, and replace the propped-open lid, and let it cook further.

In my last batch, the total time on LOW was about 12 hours. Every batch will be a little different, so check consistency and stop the evaporation when it’s firm enough for you.

you can pause the process

You might want to put the entire process on hold for a while – this is no problem! Simply remove the chopsticks, set the cover back in place, and leave the slow cooker on LOW for an hour or three. When you’re ready to proceed, prop open the lid again, and evaporation will resume.

finish the apple butter

Stir the apple butter and check the texture. If you want a very smooth and silky butter, whiz the batch with an immersion blender. The apple butter should mound on a spoon. Plop the spoonful on a saucer and let stand about a minute. Then check: if there is no rim of liquid that has separated out, the apple butter is ready to can.

can in a waterbath

Prepare jars as usual, and heat water for a boiling-water bath. When the jars are ready, fill them, and process in a boiling water bath 10 minutes.

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