Holiday Food Gift Idea! Slow Cooker Apple Butter

slow cooker apple butterApple butter is one of my favorite condiments to have on hand. My kids love it, it’s great for breakfast and paired with peanut butter, it makes a killer sandwich that blows traditional PB&J out of the water. A plain spoonful is a great way to get an all-natural sweet fix after dinner. Or I suppose you could swirl some in with vanilla ice cream. (YUM!)

So much goodness, easy to make in your slow cooker and a snap to can? That can only mean one thing this time of year: edible holiday gift for your foodie family and friends!

Don’t be scared if you’ve never canned before. This is as easy as it gets:

1. Sterilize canning jars. If you don’t have any, hit your local hardware store or Amazon.com. Given that this gift comes together in just a few hours (mostly unattended), there’s still time to order supplies. I sterilize my jars by running them through a short cycle, without soap, in my dishwasher. You can also do it the old fashioned way and dunk them in boiling water for a few minutes.

2. Fill warm, sterilized jars with apple butter to 1/2″ from the top.

3. Using a clean paper towel, wipe around the mouth of the jar to ensure an airtight seal. Close jar.

4. Fill a large stock pot with water and allow water to boil for 5 minutes. Submerge jars, making sure that there is at least 1″ of water above each one. (You may have to do this in batches.) “Process” the jars (i.e., leave them in the boiling water) for 15 minutes. Add an extra 5 minutes for every 1,000 ft. you are above sea level.

5. Remove jars from water (be careful; canning tongs are worth the minor investment) and check to make sure that the seals are tight. Allow jars to cool on counter overnight.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
(Makes enough for about 1 small-medium mason jar)

6 apples, peeled, cored & cut into quarters
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (you can substitute or mix in fresh orange juice)
1/8 c packed light brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1. Place all ingredients in your slow cooker. Place cooker on high for 6 hours. Stir periodically to break up pieces of apple. Cook longer if necessary — you want all of the liquid to evaporate and for a thick spread to remain.

*Note: If you want to make a more spiced version, consider adding cloves, nutmeg or even an allspice berry or two. Just remember to pull out any whole dried spices before canning or storing.

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