Spiced apple-pear butter on muffin
Canning, Freezing & More Preserving, Recipes

Spiced Apple-Pear Butter in a Slow Cooker

So after eating apples for a week and barely making a dent in my U-pick bushel, it was time to get serious about them.

A mountain of fresh, ripe apples and pears

I needed to reduce my mountain of apples into something I could savor long into the season, but not doctor up with a mountain of sugar.

Hello, apple butter.

Apple butter is like a super concentrated form of apple sauce. The only buttery thing about it is the texture, which after a full day of bubbling in a slow cooker, turns into a smooth and sweet delectable treat. I give my butter an extra special kick with some spices and pears, because all together, they really say autumn to me.

This is best made on a lazy Sunday when you’re hanging around the house, because while you don’t need to tend to the kitchen, you do need to be around to stir the pot once in a while. And as the apples and pears simmer in the slow cooker all day, you’ll probably want to eat your house; it smells so good.

What are some ways you can use apple-pear butter? Think of it like a jam — you can spread it on toast, biscuits and muffins; add a dollop to oatmeal, a spoonful to thumbprint cookies; smear it on a sandwich with turkey and brie; or glaze it over a tender pork butt. Apple-pear butter for breakfast, lunch and dinner? You got it.

Spiced Apple-Pear Butter
Makes 4 pints and 1 half-pint

Ingredients

8 pounds mixed fruit (I used equal parts sweet apples, tart apples, and pears)
2 cups apple cider (or water)
3 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks, broken apart
1 tablespoon whole allspice

Method

The key to this recipe is using the freshest fruit you can find with the perfect amount of ripeness. My apples and pears were so naturally sweet and bright on their own, there was no need for any amendments like sugar or lemon juice. Fresh-picked is the best!

Peel and core your fruit, then chop them up into small chunks. The smaller the chunks, the quicker they’ll cook down.

Chop up apples and pears

Fill a six-quart slow cooker to the brim with your chopped fruit. Add in 2 cups of apple cider (or water), cover with a lid, and set your timer to four hours on high heat.

Fill a slow-cooker to the brim with chopped fruit

Occasionally give the fruit a stir.

After four hours, the mixture will be a mushy and bubbling pot of gold. I dare you to not sneak a taste while it’s filling your home with all sorts of delicious smells. If you like a smoother consistency, you can puree the fruit with an immersion blender right in the pot. I find that the fruit usually breaks down enough on its own by the time it turns into butter, so I leave it as-is. I like my butters a bit chunky.

Prepare a spice sachet by wrapping a layer of cheesecloth around your cinnamon and allspice, then add that to the pot.

Prepare a spice sachet with cinnamon and allspice

Prop the lid open slightly with a wooden spoon to let the steam escape, then reset the timer to eight hours on low heat.

Prop the lid open slightly and heat on low for eight hours

Give the mixture a good stir every couple of hours to evenly distribute the spice flavoring. Over time, the mixture will start to reduce and brown into a decadently thick consistency. It starts to sputter and spatter more as it’s closer to being done, and by the time your eight hours are up, you should be left with roughly half the amount of fruit in the pot.

Cook the apple-pear butter down to half the amount

Treat yourself to a spoonful!

Then remove your spice sachet, and funnel your spiced apple-pear butter into hot, clean pint jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace.

Remove spice sachet before canning

Funnel spiced apple-pear butter into hot, clean jars

Wipe the rims with a damp cloth, then seal with lids and rings. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude as needed. (My recipe made four pints plus a little half-pint dividend, so I processed the pints and enjoyed the half-pint right away!)

Alternatively, you can simply let them cool to room temperature and then refrigerate them or freeze them. Processed jars will keep for over a year in a cool, dark pantry, while unprocessed jars in the fridge will keep for at least a month or two. Since apples have a high amount of natural acid, the butter will have a fairly long shelf life. Likely you’ll use it all up before then!

Spiced apple-pear butter

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  • Robin Hinsdale

    Thanks so much for the luscious recipe! I’ve got it started in the slow cooker now and can’t wait for the end result. This will taste SO good with gluten-free scones for Sunday morning breakfast! 🙂

  • This is ridicules, you can NOT use a “slow” cooker “off the grid”. I know, because the power usage, is far to great for a large system. It amazes me that people talk the talk, but have never walked the walk. Off grid, means no crock pot cooking. The off grid idea is just plain out for making apple butter in a crock pot…

    • Hi, I’m not sure where you got the idea that this recipe was designed for off-grid kitchens. Nowhere in this post does it state that the slow cooker was used off the grid, nor do I imply that I cooked the apple butter off the grid.

  • cooking sherry

    You don’t need to peel or core the apples and pears. Just cut up in quarters. Put in your ctock pot or pot andsome liquid and cook ttil soft. Then put it thru a food mill. Seeds and skin are left behind and you get allthe goodness and color from the skins. So easy and less work.

    • Excellent idea for those that have a food mill!

  • Pingback: 2012: A Year in Review | Garden Betty()

  • Thank you! I hope you try this!

  • Misti @ SproutDispatch.com

    I recently made pumpkin butter and though I know apple butter isn’t the same, I’m glad to see that the consistency ended up about like mine. I was hoping for a creamier texture, but alas, chunkier it is. Next time I’ll try a slow cooker too. 

    • Once the fruit has softened in the pot, you can use an immersion blender or puree it in a blender, and then continue to cook it down to reduce and thicken. Or you can start off with smaller chunks of fruit and let that cook down for the day.

  • Charitynoelle

    I’ve been making this all day and it’s heavenly. With all the bowls my son has had throughout the day and my periodic tastes, it’s practically gone! So delicious. I added a vanilla bean and it’s sooo flavorful!

    Thanks for the delicious recipe, I’ll have to make another batch before the end of the month, I’m guessing.

    • Sounds wonderful! Also, you can keep adding more fruit to the pot and let it all cook down over the course of two days if you want!

  • Skylarmagazine Sarah

    Yum! That looks and sounds absolutely delicious! I love apple, anything apple flavored works for me!

    You have a very yummy blog! Made my tummy grumble.

    Sarah
    http://skylarinc.blogspot.com/

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