'Tis the season of gift giving, celebrating, and feasting! Your social calendar is probably filling up with family gatherings, friendly get-togethers, and holiday parties, while the number of shopping days left are disappearing before our eyes.
Afraid to face the mall crowds or can't seem to find enough hours in the day, but hate showing up empty-handed? This apple butter recipe is festive, super easy to put together, and almost completely hands-off, making it the perfect gift to DIY during this busy holiday season. Most importantly, it is delicious on everything!
Edible gifts are personal and practical. For the maker, I find them to be cost-efficient and almost always very well-received by the recipient. Whether you are in need of a hostess gift (better yet, use an entire batch of the recipe to divide up for all of your hosts this season), or something small yet special with a personal touch, this apple butter recipe is the answer.
Throwing a party yourself? I bet a small jar of apple butter would make for wonderful favors and/or could even act as place cards for a rustic table setting!
The best thing about this recipe is how easy it is to make in a slow cooker. The whole batch cooks up either in one afternoon (with minimal babysitting) or even overnight! Try mixing up the spices or swapping in your favorite types of apples to make this recipe truly your own.
Gifting Apple Butter
For as easy and practical as some edible gifts may seem, they are merely just "food" until transformed into a gift. I'm talking about the difference between apple butter hanging out in your fridge in some hand-me-down tupperware and packaging it up in a reusable jar with festive ribbon, trimmings, and a personal gift tag. Better yet, go the extra mile and add some freshly baked croissants, your favorite muffins, or anything else that goes well with a big slathering of apple butter!
Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
Makes about 4 cups
apples, peeled, cored, and cubed
Juice of half a lemon
vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved
Place the cubed apples in a slow cooker and toss with the lemon juice.
In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients.
Stir the sugar mixture into the slow cooker until the apples are evenly coated. Add in the scraped vanilla bean pod.
Stirring intermittently (about every couple hours or so), cook the apple for about 5 hours on high, or for about 10 hours on low, until the apples are soft and break easily with the back of a wooden spoon.
Carefully fish out the vanilla bean pod. Purée the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Alternatively, transfer the mixture to a regular blender (be careful — the apples with be very hot!) and blend until smooth.
Return the puréed apples to the slow cooker and cook on low for about 2 more hours, until thick and the flavors are concentrated.
Carefully transfer into clean glass containers. Let cool before storing in the refrigerator. The apple butter will keep for about a couple of weeks in the refrigerator, or longer if properly canned.
I prefer to use a mixture of tart and sweet apples.
You may adjust the amount of sugar to taste or depending on the types of apples you choose.
Instead of using vanilla bean seeds, stir in about 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract after the apple butter is done cooking.