One of the main reasons why I wanted my boyfriend to get me a slow cooker was so that I could easily make homemade fruit butters. These sweet spreads made of cooked-down and pureed fruits are incredible on their own or spread on different kinds of bread. They're also lovely to bake with and can be mixed into oatmeal or yogurt for a sweet and spicy touch.
Fruit butters can be purchased commercially, but I've had a lot of trouble finding brands made without added sugars or sweeteners. It seems silly to me to add sugar to fruit that is already naturally very sweet. After searching on the Internet for a while I was unable to find any good apple butter recipes that didn't call for the addition of brown sugar or molasses.
I finally decided to just give it a shot myself, using only fresh apples, spices, and unsweetened apple juice. The results were fantastic and the slow cooker made the whole job practically effortless. I simply tossed all the ingredients into the CrockPot before going to bed, set it on low for 15 hours and when I got home from work the next day it was perfect. A quick pass through the blender and it was ready to serve.
This recipe makes enough to fill a large 24oz jar, which is just where I've been keeping it. If you'd like to preserve this for longer keeping, you can follow the same recipe and store using heated and sterilized jars. I admit that I haven't quite gotten around to doing it that way, which is why I like the nice usable amount that this produces.
Cinnamon Apple Butter (No Sugar Added)
This recipe is made without any added sugars to highlight the natural sweetness of the apples and juice. You can use any apples you'd like, but try to pick a sweeter variety such as Macintosh or Jonathan; Granny Smith apples don't work quite as well in this recipe due to their acidity. You can also play around with the juice for slightly different flavors. Try using grape, pomegranate, or pear juice (avoid citrus juices).
Ingredients8 Macintosh Apples, cored & sliced but not peeled
3 cups apple cider or apple juice (preferably no sugar added)1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1/2 teaspoon nutmegTo make:In the base of your slow mixer, add the apples followed by the spices, lemon juice, and apple juice. The cider should just cover the apples, but they shouldn't be swimming in it. If you need a little more, add it. Set the slow cooker to "low" for 12-15 hours. (I find it's best to get it going at night just before you go to bed; when you wake up it'll be just about done.)Once the apples have softened, darkened, and much of the liquid has reduced, use a standard or immersion blender (or a food mill) to process until smooth.If the apple butter is still a bit wet after the end of cooking time (due to the size of apples or the range of your slow cooker) transfer the apple butter to a large pot and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the apple butter has thickened (take care because the mixture will splatter).Let the apple butter cool completely before pouring into a glass jar or air-tight container. This will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.