One of the perks of living in the Pacific Northwest is that we live in apple country! I remember growing up in Southern California and hearing that our apples came from Washington. I would think to myself “wow, that’s so far away!” And now, we basically live there! Just to be clear, Oregon does have it’s fair share of apples too. In fact, we were just about to plan an apple-picking excursion when my husband came home from work with a large cooler full of apples and pears that a co-worker gave him. They were from his family’s organic orchard.
The first apple recipe that I decided to try was a cock pot apple butter. It was my first time making apple butter but this recipe was so easy that I’m sure I will make it again.
When I cook, I always try to have Penny help me as much as possible along the way. She is only 4 years old, so not quite coordinated enough to use a knife, but she understands that knives are sharp and that she should keep her hands out of the way while I chop. That being said, she often likes to stand next to me while I cut fruits and veggies and when I give her the green light, she’ll grab some for herself or help transfer them to their cooking vessel. This is a very small and easy task, but it really helps Penny feel involved in the cooking process and it also helps to familiarize her with all the fruits and veggies that we eat and understand how they taste different when cooked or raw. We also use this opportunity to talk about the nutrition that each offers. It’s never too early to get your kids interested in their nutrition and health!
We started following a basic recipe that called for 5 lbs of apples and 4 cups of sugar but once Penny measured out the 4 cups of sugar, I added more apples.
I just kept on adding apples until our 6 quart crock pot was full. My estimate was about 6-7 lbs of apples. I cored them but left the skin on. If they had not been organic, I would have peeled them and discarded the skin. Seasoned with cinnamon and clove and set to high at first and then low overnight, these apples simmered for a long time and melted down into a delicious mush that smelled so amazing! The next day, I took an immersion blender to it to smooth it out even more.
Then we canned them by carefully filling jars with apple butter, cleaning the rim and capping them, then boiling for 10 minutes.
I explained to Penny that the heating helps kill any bugs (bacteria/fungi) that would normally make food spoil and it also helps remove any oxygen from the jars to create a tight vacuum seal. She enjoyed learning the science behind it and she stood around as the jars cooled so she could observe the “pops” in the lids as they sealed.
Here is the recipe we followed:
6-7 lbs organic apples, cored, large diced, skin on
4 cups sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
10-12, 8 oz glass jars with lids and bands for preserving
large stockpot with boiling water for processing
Add all ingredients to 6 qt crock pot. Cook on high for 1 hour, then low for the next 9-13 hours. We left ours cooking overnight. Blend until smooth. Fill each clean jar with apple butter leaving at least 1/2 inch space. Clean the rim. Apply the lids and tighten. Submerge in boiling water for 10 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature. Store indefinitely (preferably away from light), share with friends and family, and enjoy!