You know what’s funny about the typical grocery store Red Delicious apple? The fact that, chances are, that apple is decidedly not delicious. They are mealy, waxy, and completely devoid of flavor or nutrients.
It is for this reason that I’ve been mostly ambivalent to apples my whole life. Sure, I’d eat apples if they were smothered in caramel or baked into a pie. But, for the most part, I avoided apples like the plague. Biting into a mealy apple is one of my least favorite things on the planet.
While bad apples are really bad, I’d argue that good apples are really, really good. Biting into a crisp, juicy apple is one of life’s simple pleasures. Last weekend, I attended the Portland Nursery’s Apple Festival and was overwhelmed by the sheer apple-ness of it all. The Apple Festival boasts 30+ varieties of local apples, all picked at the height of apple season. They offer apple tastings, as well as apple cider, caramel apples, apple pastries and so much more. Oh, and did I mention that they sell all the varieties apples for .99 cents a pound (!). It was like I died and went to apple heaven.
Naturally, I bought ten pounds of apples. I could have easily bought more, but I have a whopping two people in my household (and 5 pounds a person seemed reasonable?). After perusing and tasting the countless apple options, I finally settled on 6 pounds of King David apples (for canning) and 4 pounds of Winesaps (for eating).
From the outset, my plan was to make apple butter. I’m a sucker for a good apple butter, and I happen to think that apple butter tastes like autumn. I love that apple butter isn’t butter at all, it’s just glorified apple sauce — apple sauce that has been cooked down for hours and hours, until it is thick, dark, rich, and wonderful. I’d seen a few recipes for making apple butter in the slow cooker, and I was keen on the idea of filling my slow cooker with apples in the evening and then waking up in the morning to apple butter.
Let me tell you, waking up in the morning to the aroma of slow cooked apple butter is nothing short of magical. The whole house smelled like apples, cinnamon and cloves…and it was fabulous. Sadly, the apple butter wasn’t quite as thick and rich as I wanted it to be, so I wasn’t able to slather any on my morning toast. I finished cooking the apple butter that evening (after work) and I’ve been happily eating it ever since. And while eating apple butter is much different than biting into a fresh apple – making apple butter is a fantastic way to preserve the apple harvest. I plan on devouring as many fresh apples as I can over the next few weeks, but I now have multiple jars of apple butter to get me through the winter. A few jars might even end up as Christmas gifts…
So, then, happy apple season to you all! I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. I’ve included a roundup of some of my favorite apple recipes at the bottom of this post (and feel free to include any of your favorite apple recipes in the comments).
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
(Canning instructions for this recipe taken from Simply Canning)
5 lbs* of apples, peeled, cored, and cut into slices (*amount may vary, just slice enough to fill your slow cooker to the very brim)
1.5 cups sugar (I used a combination of muscovado and white sugar)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries (or ground allspice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Place apple slices in your slow cooker, and fill to the very brim. Pour sugar and spices over the top of the apples. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set the heat to low.
Allow apples to cook down on low heat for 10 (or more*) hours, stirring occasionally. For the last two hours of cooking, remove the lid (or place the lid on partially) to allow the moisture to cook off. Once the mixture is thick and brown, turn off the slow cooker. If you desire a smooth consistency, use a potato masher, immersion blender, or food processor to ensure the apple butter is smooth. (*Note, after I pureed my apple butter I allowed it to cook down for another hour as I like my apple butter really thick & dark).
If canning, pour apple butter into hot, sterilized jars and process in a water bath for 5 minutes. (*Note, please can at your own risk. Some sites say to process for 10 minutes, but please refer to official canning guides for processing times).
AND NOW, AN APPLE RECIPE ROUNDUP!
A few of my own apple recipes:
Pork and Apple Pot Pie with Rosemary Gruyere Biscuits
Raw Kale and Apple Salad
Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
Curried Quinoa and Apple Salad
A few apple recipes from other lovely people:
Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Maple Compote
Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash Soup with Dill
Apple and Honey Challah
Dutch Baby Apple Pancake
Apple and Carrot Shortbread
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apples
Baked Apple Donuts